After the DREAM Act, which was designed to assist children who were brought by their parents to the United States either without inspection or no longer in status, was defeated in the Senate in late 2010 and early 2011, President Obama issued an executive order known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), designed to assist those individuals who would have benefited from the DREAM Act. DACA placed a group of people who were brought to United States as children and were attending or had graduated from high school in a status known as deferred action or removal which gave them authorization to remain in work in the United States for a period of three years.
A majority of Americans supported this action and in fact the Republican controlled Congress had voted to approve the DREAM Act 216-198 and the Senate had voted to approve the DREAM Act 56-43 but it was blocked by a Senate filibuster. Moreover, it was a morally appropriate and right action to do and although some disagree with the action, it was legally within the powers of the President to issue such an executive order. However, because it is an executive order from a sitting President, the next President can revoke the order as soon as he is inaugurated. Donald Trump has said that he will revoke DACA as soon as he is in office.
So the question arises, what happens to the DREAMers (as the beneficiaries of DACA are known)? Since being given the opportunity to remain and work in the United States, DREAMers have shown by and large that they can and do contribute to society and can be just as successful as anyone born here in the United States. They have been valedictorians and salutatorian’s in high schools; they have earned scholarships at prestigious universities; won a Pulitzer Prize (Philippine dreamer José Antonio Vargas); started businesses, bought homes and otherwise contributed to the United States economy.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-ILL) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) have introduced a bill in the Senate known as the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act to help protect the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients currently in the United States. The BRIDGE Act would essentially extend the same protections to DACA recipients for another three years. Although Trump vowed to deport all the people illegally present in the United States during his campaign, he has appeared to soften his stance recently and even told Time magazine, “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” in reference to DACA recipients in an interview released on December 7.
What will actually happen remains to be seen. However, the reality now is that there are close to 800,000 DACA beneficiaries who were brought to the United States as children by their parents and have graduated from high school or the equivalent, who are just as much a part of America as their peers who were born here. They are workers, scholars, entrepreneurs and business owners, property owners, spouses and parents of US citizens who are part of this country and contribute to our economy. To deport these people would not only be disastrous for their US citizen family members and the communities where they live, as well as our economy, it would simply be un-American and morally wrong. Hopefully Trump actually means what he says that he intends to work something out, but we will not know until January 20, 2017.