Dreamers: What Trump’s Latest Policy Might Mean for Arabs
On Tuesday, Donald Trump terminated DACA, the Obama-era program that protects the so-called Dreamers from deportation, putting the fate of nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants into uncertainty.
To begin with, for those who do not know what DACA is, it stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is an American immigration policy founded by the Obama administration in June 2012. DACA allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit, driving license, and legal status.
DACA is expected to phase out in March 2018, leaving the congress with only six months to enact new protections for Dreamers through legislation. After that date, no other applications will be processed; meaning that everyone who benefits from the program will lose their status by 2020 and will return to their illegal status.
Shortly after attorney general Jeff Sessions announced the policy, Trump said in a written statement “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
Trump also mentioned that the Dreamers won’t be a priority for deportation unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang; however, those young adults won’t be able to live a normal life without a legal status. Sessions also mentioned that DACA denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to “illegal aliens”.
Trump promised to “act with heart and compassion – but through the lawful democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve”
Former President Barrack Obama responded, “shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people — once again”. Obama thinks the policy is self-defeating and contrary to basic decency.
Criticism of the policy flooded every platform available for everyone, even some of Trump’s Republican Party.
Many have rallied to support the young adults who have spent much of their lives in the US. A Morning Consult poll in April found that 78% of voters wanted to let Dreamers stay in the US; 56% expressed support for eventual citizenship. Only 14% of respondents said they should be sent back to their countries of origin.
Dreamers, other undocumented immigrants and their supporters yelled, “Shame!” in front of the White House. And at least nine DACA recipients were arrested in front of Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday, ahead of bigger rallies that were planned for the evening.
Dreamers are good for the economy, according to a study by the University of California, San Diego. 97% of DACA recipients are employed or in school. They open firms, and buy cars and homes, and will boost the US economy by $460bn over the next decade. At least 72% of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ Dreamers, meaning that phasing out DACA will likely force big firms to spend time and cash recruiting new talent.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement “This is a sad day for our country”. Apple CEO Tim Cook said 250 Apple employees are Dreamers who “deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values”.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of committing “a deeply shameful act of political cowardice and a despicable assault on innocent young people in communities across America”
Two of the top 24 countries DACA applicants list as their place of birth are majority-Muslim or have a substantial Muslim population: India and Pakistan. It is not certain how many Arabs or Muslims are protected by the DACA, but it is certain that they are a considerable amount.
With policies like this being enacted, Arabs and Muslims should feel more vulnerable day after day; as Trump’s policies are threatening the lives and future of anyone.