Imagine this: At the age of four your parents move your family from the country where you were born to the United S
tates in hopes of better opportunities for you as you grow up. You are not a citizen but you grow up in the U.S. and identify as an American. Now, you are entering your senior year of high school with hopes of applying to colleges soon to begin studying to become a doctor. However, because you are not a legal citizen, you could be deported at any time and forced to leave behind the life you have built in the U.S. and return to a country of which you have essentially no memory.
Such is the reality 787,580 people face in the United States with the threat of DACA being rescinded. DACA, short for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, was launched under President Obama in 2012. Recipients of DACA, often referred to as Dreamers, are granted the right to be lawfully present in the U.S. without the threat of deportation. However, the act does not provide official legal status to its recipients as well as no path to citizenship. This status is available for two years before having to be renewed. To be eligible for DACA, applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and lived there since June 15, 2007. Since it has been created, 787,580 people have been approved for the program. Additionally, through the program Dreamers are granted the right to be employed and can apply for work permits as well as driver’s licenses. Therefore, DACA recipients pay taxes, even despite not having an official legal status. In California, Dreamers pay 2.1 billion dollars in federal taxes and 1 billion dollars in local and state taxes. Additionally, in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic in the United States, DACA recipients make up 200,000 essential workers and 27,000 healthcare workers. Consequently, possible deportations would be devastating to the U.S. as it tries to navigate through this health crisis.
In 2017, the Trump Administration announced their plan to end DACA. After many rulings in federal courts and uncertainty about the status of DACA, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump Administration's attempt on June 18, 2020. The Supreme Court stated that the administration had failed to provide adequate justification for ending DACA. While Dreamers were granted the right to maintain their status in the United States, the ruling offered an opportunity for the Trump administration to try again under a different legal approach. Additionally, the Supreme Court did not state that ending the program was unconstitutional and they did not decide on Trump’s executive authority to end it.
A CBS News Poll published in June found that 85% of Americans support allowing Dreamers to stay in the U.S. with 73% of Republicans saying they supported it. With a significant majority of both parties supporting the continuation of DACA, there is little to no political gain in working to end it. Alongside the relative uncertainty of the continued existence of DACA, Congress has been unable to come up with a permanent solution for Dreamers. However, unlike the current presidential administration, Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has said that he supports protecting Dreamers and establishing a path to citizenship. Moving forward, it is essential that Dreamers maintain the protections given to them under DACA and a clear path to citizenship be established.