President Trump is threatening to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status for 800,000 innocent young immigrant children this week. If Trump ends DACA, he will be punishing innocent children “DREAMers” for the actions of their parents. They are the blameless children of immigrants that were brought to this country. There are 6,000 Iowa children protected from deportation under the 2012 DACA action. If President Trump ends the DACA program these children will lose their protections and will be subject to deportation from the country.
Iowans are gathering outside Senator Joni Ernst’s office in Des Moines tomorrow to speak out in support of keeping DACA. The American Friends Service Committee of Iowa will hold a rally from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM outside the federal building on Walnut, and they will hold a sit-in at Ernst’s office from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Trump has announced a DACA decision by tomorrow, September 5. Politico has reported that he will end the program, but delay enacting that decision by six months. A group of 10 Republican state attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, have threatened to sue over the DACA program unless Trump ends it by that date.
Democratic Attorneys General from 20 states responded in July by sending a letter to President Trump requesting he leave DACA in place. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was one of those that signed the letter in defense of the DREAMers.
“You said Dreamers should ‘rest easy.’ We urge you to affirm America’s values and tradition as a nation of immigrants and make clear that you will not only continue DACA, but that you will defend it,” the letter from the 20 AGs said. “The cost of not doing so would be too high for America, the economy, and for these young people … Today we join, together to urge you not to capitulate to the demands Texas and nine other states set forth … We strongly believe that DACA has made our communities safer, enabling these young people to report crimes to police without fear of deportation.”
There is a much larger significance of the Democratic attorney generals’ action than on DACA. Republicans utilized states’ attorneys general frequently in blocking or delaying the actions of President Obama.
Democratic attorney generals are using the Republican playbook in order to stop, delay or block many of Trump’s initiatives. They opposed Trump’s earlier ban on travel from Muslim countries. They have filed a lawsuit claiming Trump violated the so-called “emoluments clause” and sued the Trump administration for delaying energy efficiency standards. They sued Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for delaying a rule to protect students from predatory lending related to for-profit colleges. Democrats see the use of judicial action as an important tool in resisting the Trump agenda.
The DACA action has Republicans split on the larger immigration issues. The Trump base is pushing him to fulfill his campaign pledge to end DACA. However, many Republicans see ending DACA as a heartless and unnecessarily spiteful punishment for innocent children.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that Congress must act on legislation to protect these DREAMers. “I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix,” Ryan said.
Senator Lindsey Graham joined Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin to co-sponsor the BRIDGE Act. It would provide “provisional protected presence” for three years to young immigrants if they register with the government, pay the required processing fee and pass a criminal background check.
The special nature of the DACA program addresses a unique subset of undocumented immigrants. These are innocent immigrant children that didn’t intentionally break any laws. They were youngsters when they entered the country, the median age was six years old. The qualifications for inclusion in the DACA program set high standards for these young people. In addition, about 90% are either in school or have jobs.
To qualify for DACA, they had to be younger than 16 when they first entered the country and no older that thirty-one on June 15, 2012.
They must have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 up to the present time. They were required to pass extensive background checks, pay a fee, be a student or completed high school or be an honorably discharged veteran of the military. In addition, the qualifications include no felony convictions, and they must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
DACA has granted legal protection to these young immigrants allowing them to go to college, enter the military, work to support their families and contribute to Iowa’s and the country’s economy. They pay local, state and federal taxes as well as Social Security taxes. There is no pathway to citizenship under DACA protections, and they must reapply every two years for an extension of that status.
There have been numerous inspirational stories written about the 6,000 Iowa DREAMers. Many have been outstanding leaders, exceptional students and have contributed to Iowa’s economy. Iowa needs them to stay and continue to contribute and enrich Iowa’s family of immigrants.
by Rick Smith