On September 5th, 2017 I received an email from one of my high school teachers. The subject line read “DACA” and the body had only a few words- “I hate Trump.” A quick google search led me to the discovery that President Donald Trump made the decision to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
I was immediately distraught. My senior year of high school, I wrote a research paper on the benefits of the DACA, and its superior counterpart the DREAM Act. Because of this, I realized the hugely negative impact that this decision would have on 800,000 DACA beneficiaries as well as the nation as a whole. After contemplating the decision the President had just made, I came to the realization that this was my kairos, my opportunity to speak out about the reasons that the DREAM Act should be implemented.
While the DACA is a worthwhile program, it is undoubtedly inferior to the DREAM Act. Here’s why:
- The DACA is not an option for those wishing to obtain legal status. What this means is that DACA beneficiaries can stay in the U.S. legally, but only for two years at a time. After two years, they must renew their status. The DREAM Act, however, provides a more permanent solution to legal status issues.
- Fewer individuals qualify for the DACA. While 1.2 million young people qualify for the DACA, an astounding 2.1 million qualify for the benefits offered by the DREAM Act
- The DREAM Act is a permanent solution. The DREAM Act is a proposed piece of legislation, that if passed, would become law while the DACA is merely an executive order. The reality of this difference recently became clear when President Donald Trump decided to not renew the program. However, there is now potential for Congress to make the DACA legislation.
So, while we are desperately clinging to the familiar hope of the DACA, I feel that we should refocus our efforts. Rather than saving an unstable and inferior program, the youth of America should look to the DREAM Act as a solution for our fellow youth.
Despite this ambitious goal, it is important to note how the elimination of the DACA will impact America.
- First things first- 800,000 young adults are now eligible for deportation. This is not only unjust for those becoming eligible for deportation, it is also unjust for the nation. These beneficiaries are educated, productive members of society, and to deport them would be a disservice to the quality of the nation.
- The workforce will be weakened. With 91% of DACA beneficiaries employed, their deportation will significantly impact the workforce. Undesirable jobs in the agriculture, food, construction, and accommodation industry will be left open.
- The DACA ending could hurt the economy. The Center for American Progress estimated that the deportation of DACA workers could lead to a $400 billion decrease in GDP in the next 10 years.
The DACA ending is tragic, to say the least. However, I feel that this unfortunate circumstance is an opportunity in disguise. As the youth of America, we can focus our efforts on saving Dreamers, not only by preserving the DACA but implementing the DREAM Act.