Not Just A Statistic: 2017 DACA Repeal
On Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, President Donald Trump ordered an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—an Obama-era program that protects young, undocumented immigrants from deportation. DACA was introduced on June 15th, 2012 for the purpose of protecting immigrant youth who came to the US when they were children. They are known as Dreamers. As long as the applicant meets certain schooling and criminal record conditions, DACA provides deferred action which suspends deportation for two years and provides a legal work permit. Because of the success of this program, 790,000 young adults who were originally eligible for deportation have been legally allowed to remain and work in the US without fear. Mr. Trump and the Department of Justice, whose role is to “enforce the law… [and] seek punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior,” announced the end of this program and the subsequent pressure on lawmakers in Congress to find a solution to propose a bipartisan measure that could protect these young immigrants.
Despite the Department of Justice stating in their mission statement that their goal is to “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice,” the obvious anti-immigrant sentiment can’t be ignored. Mr. Trump stated that “millions of Americans [are] victimized by this unfair system” claiming that the Dreamers are usurping American jobs and pushing down wages. Mr. Trump explained that his decision to end the DACA program is because “We must also have heart and compassion for the unemployed, struggling, and forgotten Americans.” Although the Dreamers have lived the large majority of their lives in the US and would consider themselves American, Mr. Trump declares that these “low-skilled [immigrants]” are helping “spur a humanitarian crisis.” Dreamers are contributing to the “massive surge of unaccompanied minors… [and] young people who would become members of violent gangs…” Although the DACA program has strict policy regarding felonies, significant misdemeanors, and misdemeanors that bar criminals from entering the program, Mr. Trump continues to exclaim that these youth and young adults are possible members of gangs, such as “MS-13.”
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted that “Mexico will receive these young people who return with open arms,” despite data stating that Mexico has neither the resources nor enough help and support to prepare for the deported Dreamers. Many people in Mexico are wary about having high expectations of assistance. Fernandez De Castro, director of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego stated that “[Mexico has] promised a lot to Mexican-Americans, to Mexicans here, and often they don’t deliver.” Mexico is not the only country that has Dreamers -- these youth and young adults are from countries stretching from El Salvador to South Korea. Countries like Poland, India, Brazil, Pakistan, and Peru have DACA recipients. The repeal of DACA impact not just the lives of Mexican-American peoples, but also impacts the lives of people from 118 countries. Many countries that may have their American Dreamers deported have not commented on the decision to end DACA; there is a scary reality of immigrants being uprooted from their lives, family, and homes that is being ignored.
As Unitarian Universalists, this decision directly goes against our beliefs and principles. On September 5th, the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and Thomas Andrews, President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) issued a statement declaring that they are appalled by Trump’s decision. In regards to the Dreamers, the UUA and UUSC stated that “these individuals are not statistics; they are students, doctors, and veterans, they are hard-working members and leaders of communities, they are parents, friends, neighbors and loved ones. Tearing our communities apart makes no one safer.” They declared that the “President’s betrayal” not only goes against the Unitarian Universalist faith, but also our nation’s principles, the views, and the wishes of the majority of the country. The UUA and UUSC are encouraging Unitarian Universalists, people of any faith, and people of conscience to “rise up and resist this latest attack on our immigrant siblings.” The statement finishes by declaring that all the people impacted by this decision are members of the United States and that the UUA will defend their right to stay.