Last week the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said the fate of immigrant children in America is in serious jeopardy. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, is a 2012 executive order signed by former President Barack Obama that stopped deportation for nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrant children.
These are the innocent children of immigrants, known as Dreamers, that were brought here by their parents. These kids didn’t intentionally break any laws but now the Trump regime may cruelly punish them simply for accompanying their parents across the border.
Kelly told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week that the Trump administration may not defend DACA from a legal challenge. The Republican Attorneys General from 10 states are threatening to sue to end DACA protections if Trump doesn’t end DACA by September 5th. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez attended the caucus and warned that it appeared the Trump administration was reneging on earlier promises.
“He did not indicate that they would (defend it). He didn’t say that they wouldn’t, but he didn’t say that they would,” Menendez told CNN. “So between that and what he says is the legal analysis he’s heard, it’s not a pretty picture.”
If the Trump administration caves to these Republican Attorneys General it confirms another of President Trump’s broken promises. In February Trump spoke positively about these children.
“We’re going to show great heart,” Trump said. “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you…To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids, in many cases — not in all cases…But you have some absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly — they were brought here in such a way — it’s a very, very tough subject.”
His reversal of course on DACA children may be a capitulation to his base. During the campaign Trump vowed to take drastic action on immigration issues. He promised a border wall that Mexico would pay for it. But since his election, he is having great difficulty winning any victories in Congress. He may see killing DACA protections as an easy way to claim a win for his base of anti-immigrant voters. If he does end DACA protections, it will be a cruel gift to his base. Instead of showing great heart, he will sacrifice innocent children’s lives for purely partisan political gain.
In his first press conference following the November election, President Obama warned Trump that these children deserve to stay and be protected from deportation.
“These are kids who were brought here by their parents. They did nothing wrong. They’ve gone to school. They have pledged allegiance to the flag. Some of them have joined the military. They’ve enrolled in school. By definition, if they’re part of this program, they are solid, wonderful young people of good character…it is my strong belief that the majority of the American people would not want to see suddenly those kids have to start hiding again. And that’s something that I will encourage the president-elect to look at.”
DACA not only gave these children safe haven from deportation, it opened up opportunities to them by granting work permits. Ending their DACA status would jeopardize their ability to work and pay taxes. They would go back underground and be subject to exploitation and fear of deportation.
In June, 2016 the Des Moines Register published an article about an Iowa Dreamer, Kenia Calderon, at that time a junior at Drake University. In that article she described the fear and hardship she experienced before gaining DACA status and how it changed her life.
“DACA changed all that. As soon as my work permit arrived in the mail, I got a job and I haven’t stopped working since. The summer before I started my education at Drake, I worked three jobs to save up enough money for my tuition. DACA does not make us eligible for any student loans. If we choose to pursue a higher education, we have to pay out of pocket or receive private scholarships. Four years ago, I was crying tears of happiness and disbelief. Now, four years later, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have because of DACA.
“I have been able to buy my parents a home, get a driver’s license, and live without fear of being deported. This fall, I will be a senior at Drake University. Which means I am 332 days away from giving my diploma as a gift to my parents. I am so close to accomplishing the dream I’ve had since I was 8: graduating from college.”
Will President Trump break his word to Dreamers like Kenia or will he show great heart as he promised? Thousands of Iowa Dreamers are waiting anxiously for his decision.
by Rick Smith