Dissolution of DACA
● By Alesha Damerville
On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established the program known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The program was developed not to provide lawful status, but instead to cease the removal of individuals who entered the United States as children. Individuals who meet several guidelines are considered for a case deferment of two years as well as employment authorization. On September 4, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to DHS rejecting DACA, stating “such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch. DACA was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress’ repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result.”
Barack Obama released a statement just a few hours after the Trump Administration expressed it's plan to end DACA. "It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel."
Many groups advocating for immigration reform express concern on the decimation of DACA. "Terminating DACA betrays the nearly 800,000 young people who have put their faith in the government, throwing their lives into terrifying chaos," says Mayra Joachin, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.
“This strategy is counter-productive; these families are scared and insecure and with that comes fear," says Michelle Petix, executive director of Partners in Routt County. "Our mentors work to ensure the youth grow knowing their value, not just morally but economically; they grow up and contribute. It’s sad the message is they aren’t valued or welcome.”
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited organizations such as Integrated Community in Steamboat Springs work in part with the Department of Justice to help immigrants become contributing members to society. “Integrated Community has helped over 200 young folks get their DACA, all of which are currently enrolled in college or in the workforce,” says Sheila Henderson, executive director at Integrated Community. “These people are valuable members of the community.”
The fate of DACA now rests in the hands of Congress, who has not tried to put forth a major immigration bill since 2014, which eventually concluded without a solution. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro along with more than a dozen Attorneys General have filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump and Congress to fix the immigration system. “The Federal Government made a promise. They put a program in place and asked these young people who have grown up as Americans to apply, and the rule of law says we can’t rip that away from them now,” Shapiro says.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, initial requests for DACA are no longer being accepted and the renewal request deadline is October 5, 2017.