Right-wing GOP members of Congress and the Trump administration spent 2017 hammering away at the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides immigration relief for Americans who came to the U.S. illegally before their 16th birthday.
Republicans have attacked the program several times throughout the first year of the Trump White House, sending shockwaves through organizations and networks dedicated to young immigrants to the U.S.
Think tanks and organizations like Lacey & Larkin’s Frontera Fund continue to work for immigrant protection and to limit damage caused by right-wing by distributing funds to non-profit organizations on the ground, making a difference each day.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) gives undocumented young people who meet particular prerequisites freedom from deportation. The undocumented youths also receive a social security number and the opportunity to work in the U.S. for an initial period of two years.
Many states use DACA to provide driver’s licenses and in-state-tuition fees to undocumented young people. Learn more about DACA and program prerequisites from University of California Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program.
Many people consider DACA to be reprieve from deportation, since the program is intended to protect immigrant children or young adults who were brought to the United States when they were minors.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened the Trump White House with legal action in summer 2017 when he sent a letter requesting the administration revoke the DACA program by early September. In response, the administration began a proposed “phase off” of the program in order to avoid an immediate end to DACA protection. Since then, no new applications are being considered and no renewals of the initial two-year work period are being granted.
In total, nine Republican attorneys general and one Republican governor signed the letter of demands. The Frontera Fund followed up on the issue and the response from Arizona and continues to report on DACA and diminished immigrant protections.
For instance, in July 2017 Frontera reports that members of the Hispanic Caucus gathered to meet privately with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, who announced that the program, which protected nearly a million Americans, is in trouble. Kelly cited various legal cases already challenging the program.
Immigrants and their supporters have watched with growing alarm as right-wing lawmakers circled the DACA program. They were increasingly concerned about DACA’s future after Kelly’s announcement.
The program, which was initiated in 2012 by President Obama, is considered a success by many, including powerhouse research groups like The Brookings Institute, which reports nearly 100 percent of DACA participants work, study or do both. DACA youth also provide millions of dollars in tuition and fees to universities across the nation, and these youth have increased their earnings and are now taxpayers.
These monetary gains are very meaningful to DACA youth and their families, who participate in the U.S. economy by going back to school, buying new homes and vehicles, starting their own businesses, and more.
DACA youth and their families are frightened. Their supporters are frightened. Democratic lawmakers and constituents are alarmed. We must fight back the right’s continual campaign to destroy DACA. We must organize ourselves as ferociously as we did in 2012 and effect change.
Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund continues to guide and assist those fighting to preserve DACA and work toward a permanent solution for DREAMers and other immigrant groups.