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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Time to support the Dreamers


Why now is the time for Congress to act

The U.S. is a country of immigrants. While that phrase might sound like a nice aphorism, it’s also a reality. The Pew Research Center reported in June that over 40 million of those in the U.S. are foreign born, with immigrants representing almost every country in the world.

Yet this is not to say immigration to the U.S. is easy, or even logical at all. The demand to immigrate to the U.S. amidst a confusing system has unfortunately led to a large number of immigrants who have come here illegally. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there are around 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country in part because of the way our immigration system is structured.

It would seem then that the Trump administration’s plan to end previous Immigration reform would be a bad thing, but actually Congress ought to take this opportunity to turn DACA into law instead of relying on a past executive order.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that temporarily allowed children who came to the U.S. before age 16 to live and work here without the fear of deportation. These children, Dreamers, under DACA first lost their status in March of 2018 after Donald Trump’s administration announced a gradual end to the program. The administration allowed for DACA renewals in 2018, so in reality many won’t face deportation until March 2020.

Yet, the Trump administration has already faced numerous legal challenges over ending DACA, with one currently being argued in the Supreme Court right now.

The legal question up for debate in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California is fairly cut  and dry. Ian Millhiser of Vox outlines what the case boils down to: “Did the [Trump] administration provide in a pair of memos an adequate explanation for ending the DACA program?” He explains, “There is actually little question that the administration could end DACA if it wanted to; the question is whether this administration took the correct procedural steps to do so.”

The Supreme Court case will likely end in a 5-4 split, but even in the event of a temporary victory, the Trump administration will be able to end DACA again under a different rationale.

President Barack Obama said back when he announced the program, “Now, let’s be clear-this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”

DACA was never meant to last forever, especially considering any president does not have the power to reform immigration laws without Congress. Both Obama and Trump have understood DACA to be a temporary measure. Obama signed the executive order only because Congress, in typical fashion, did nothing.

Obama furthered, “Precisely because this is temporary, Congress needs to act. There is still time for Congress to pass the DREAM Act this year, because these kids deserve to plan their lives in more than two-year increments.” Needless to say, that never happened. The Dreamers were left dreaming for Congress to do something as the act stalled in the Senate, never to be passed.

Trump also cited Congress’s responsibility to act when he ended the program, saying in his 2017 address: “I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”

At the end of the day, it does not matter if DACA is unconstitutional. The president has the authority to create and override executive orders at will. This president alone can’t just turn temporary solutions into permanent fixes. What matters now for the Dreamers is if Congress is ready and willing to act to create a permanent solution.

By enacting DACA into law through the DREAM Act, Congress could make at least one small step to reforming the immigration system. The roughly 700,000 people who would qualify to become citizens all don’t have criminal records, came here as children and have lived here for years.

If anyone deserves a pathway to citizenship, it’s children of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for most, if not all, of their lives. The least this current Congress can do is to finally take action to help the Dreamers instead of relying on whatever the incumbent president wants.

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