Numerous immigrant groups have reacted to Trump Administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) nearly five years after it was introduced by former President Barack Obama.
According to a memo released by the Department of Homeland Security the following policies are effective immediately:
- The administration won’t consider new applications for legal status dated after Sept. 5.
- Those who are not currently protected by the program may not file for an application, but those submitted before Tuesday will continue to be processed.
- Anyone who has a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018, can apply for a two-year renewal. That application must be submitted by Oct. 5.
- Those with permits that expire between now and March 5, 2018 will be eligible for legal status for another two-plus years. For others, legal status ends as early as March 6, 2018.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time opponent of DACA, made the long-anticipated announcement on September 5. Mr. Sessions said in a news briefing that the Department of Homeland Security will allow the program to wind down in six months if Congress does not pass legislation. “There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,” Mr. Sessions was quoted by the media as saying while making the landmark announcement, which will impact 800,000 DACA recipients.
President Trump, in a tweet, called upon the US Congress following Mr. Sessions announcement to replace DACA with a new legislation by March 5, 2018, when the current law expires.
DACA’s termination received a swift opposition from immigration advocates and New York City officials. “This is about the heart and soul of America — who we are, what we believe, and how we treat young people. Every Dreamer should know that we are prepared to fight. New York City won’t give up, because we will always stand up for right over wrong,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said.
“Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA means that September 5th, 2017 will be remembered as a dark day in our nation’s history,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.
“America will not be safer or richer by depriving nearly one million young people of their liberty, tearing away 700,000 workers from our labor force or robbing the U.S. economy of $460 billion in GDP. This is a senseless and self-defeating act which flies in the face of the principles that truly make America great: opportunity and justice for all,” Choi added in a statement issued to the press.
DACA is an important economic development tool for the nation, providing educational and job opportunities previously unavailable to nearly 1 million young people; 65% of DACA recipients are currently in school, and of those, 70% are currently working.
According to NYIC, New York state protects more than 50,000 DACA recipients, one of the largest populations in the nation. Repealing DACA will significantly harm the local to economy as DACA recipients pay more than $140 million in state and local taxes and contribute nearly $2.6 billion to New York’s annual GDP. 91% of DACA recipients are employed nationwide.
“New York City’s business community will urge Congress to act quickly to provide Dreamers, their families and their employers with assurance that America will not turn its back on them, making legalization of their status the first step in comprehensive immigration reform that is essential to the economic future of this country,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.
The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a coalition of the country’s 37 largest immigrant rights organizations, called the DACA’s rescission as “inhumane and wholly un-American”. ” DACA’s end is a loss for our communities, our schools, and our economy. Most significantly, it is a strain on our national conscience,” the organization said in a statement.
NPNA urgently called on US Congress to act. “Now is the time to put forward and pass legislation to allow undocumented young people to live without fear.”
Maryann Slutsky,Executive Director of Long Island Wins, a nonprofit communications organization that focuses on immigration issues on Long Island and beyond, also opposed the Trump administration’s decision. “Today, President Donald Trump ended DACA, a decision that is cruel and morally indefensible. It flies in the face of our shared American values of equality and justice for all.”
“90% of Americans support DACA and think Dreamers should be allowed to stay and work in the only country they’ve ever known,” said Mark O’Neill, CTO of MM.LaFleur. “In addition to being overwhelmingly unpopular, this arbitrarily cruel and un-American action by the administration today creates problems for the New York business community. First, it throws 42,000 New Yorkers out of work. That’s a problem for anyone who’s selling something. Second, it costs us valuable employees. My company employs Dreamers. Losing those employees means we now bear the burden for attracting hiring and training replacements — this makes it harder for us to grow our business and slower to create more jobs for Americans. And third, it tears families apart, causing needless pain and disruption in the communities we call home.”
“New York City’s immigrant communities are strong, unified, and ready to defend our DREAMers with every tool at our disposal,” said New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “As the City Council’s Immigration Committee Chair, and the representative of an immigrant district, I condemn the Trump administration’s harmful termination of the DACA program. I call on the United States Congress to take decisive action protecting all DACA-registered and -eligible immigrants. This is a time for all New Yorkers to stand for justice and recognize the value DREAMers bring to our City and nation.”
The NYIC called on state and local governments to take steps immediately to protect New York State’s DACA recipients.
Today’s announcement comes after nine states led by Texas threatened to sue the Trump Administration unless it moved to end the program by Tuesday. A coalition of legal experts, business leaders, elected officials and advocacy groups called on the Trump administration to uphold the program.
DACA allowed individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children or teens before mid-2007 to apply for protection from deportation and work permits if they met certain requirements. Beneficiaries had to be under the age of 16 upon entering the country; no older than 31 as of June 15, 2012; lived continuously in the U.S. since mid-2007; be enrolled in high school or college, already have a diploma or degree, have a GED certificate or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. military; and have no felony criminal convictions, significant misdemeanor convictions, no more than three other misdemeanor convictions or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.