DREAMers May Continue As Political Football

Word from Politico is that Trump and his ilk will end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 that has allowed over 700,000 children of immigrants to obtain work permits and continue their studies, as well as not having a deportation target on their backs.

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz

No, it’s not surprising, given that it was a campaign promise made by Trump. But, much like anything regarding immigration and immigration reform, it did not start with Trump. In fact, the so-called DREAMers, the name given to those who benefit under DACA and those who would have benefited under legislation called the DREAM Act, have been a political football for quite a while.

The DREAM Act itself was first introduced as bipartisan legislation in 2001 by Senators Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch. What should have been a no-brainer because these kids were academic successes and hard workers wanting to become taxpayers, ended up with them relegated to “amnesty” seekers in the political fight in the media. And that such legislation serves as a “magnet” for the undocumented. You know, the Republican Party’s Greatest Hits album.

Introduced, changed, and re-introduced since then, it was in 2010 when it finally gained momentum. By the end of 2010, a Democratic House of Representatives voted for it; however, a cloture motion to stop debate on the bill failed in a Democrat-controlled Senate by a vote of 55-41, five short of the 60 required. Five Democrats voted no as they were more interested in running for re-election than doing the right thing. Although a few Republicans voted for it, the vast majority voted against it. But if there had been a chance to pass the DREAM Act and have it signed by a Democratic President, it was in 2010.

Although pressured by DREAMers to sign an executive order to at least protect DREAMers from deportation since the beginning of his tenure, President Obama continually stated that he did not have the power to sign such an order. DREAMers kept the pressure on him until finally, in June 2012, President Obama signed an executive order creating DACA. Unfortunately, upon rescinding DACA (or 6 months after if that is indeed what occurs), and with USCIS having collected the information of 740,000 beneficiaries who feared giving it because they were only “protected” from deportation through deferred prosecution of their cases, the fear of being deported by Trump may become a reality.

Trump will give reasons for ending DACA, such as the Sessions Justice Department suggesting it would not withstand a legal challenge, or that immigration law should be decided by Congress. On the latter, one can only recall 2010 and the 5 Democrats who voted against it when Democrats had a majority and a shot at protecting these kids. No doubt, there will be Republicans who point to 2010 to escape questions from the media during the coming weeks.

An all new DREAM Act has been filed and there is hope that it will be a priority for Congress to pass it during the next six months. Given the racism within Trump’s base of support, and Republicans and Democrats thinking about 2018, Washington, DC will continue to have a political football to kick around and use for political expediency and that is the DREAMers.

 

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