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JAWED: Eliminating DACA is self-sabotage for US

Opinion's Column: If Not Our Own, Then Someone's

The cost of ending the government shutdown this week was the shutting down of something else: a lot of hope. When 33 Democrats in Senate voted to end the recent government shutdown with a temporary spending bill to Feb. 8 instead of resisting the pressure, the hope for DACA beneficiaries plunged a little deeper into the ground. 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protects currently temporary legal residents who were brought over illegally when they were children. DACA was an executive order implemented by former President Barack Obama after Congress did not pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) act or really any policy that dealt with immigration issues. Under DACA, these residents were able to obtain temporary safety from deportation (two years at a time), social security, drivers licenses, work permits and a taste of opportunity that the American dream promises.

But because DACA is an executive order, a new presidency legally holds the power to revise, alter or terminate any previous executive orders,  and the attempt to terminate DACA has been set in motion by President Donald J. Trump.

What appears to be primarily an appeal to his base and a response to the group of nine attorney generals threatening to sue the Trump administration, rescinding DACA has more serious implications than maintaining it does. In comparison to the nine attorney generals threatening lawsuits if DACA was not rescinded, this Wednesday a coalition of 16 Democrat and nonpartisan attorney generals decidedly filed a suit in New York federal court to stop the Trump administration's attempts to terminate DACA.

Undoubtedly, one of the apparent reasons for the non-implementation of DACA is to serve national economic interests by aiming to relieve burdens off of American tax payers, American schools, American hospitals and the American unemployed. And why not? The economic interests being discussed are after all America's so it makes sense. But the outcome is not always is predicted to be the output, and with a matter as sensitive as the immigration laws right now, there are too many factors that can overturn things either way.

Besides the fact that ironically enough the deportation of the Dreamers is expected to cost the government at least $60 billion, which would result in the reduction of economic growth by at least $280 billion, there are 800,000 lives hanging by a thread of uncertainty. There are 800,000 frightened people who entrusted the government with their personal information for a chance to become legally accepted are the same people who fear being deported to places they can barely remember, because of that same information. And 800,000 is only the approximated number of DACA recipients. 

Rescinding a program that is supported by a majority of Americans, a program that outspokenly stands up for what are supposed to be American values, one which actually aims to deliver on the idea of the American dream by providing opportunity and that does not promise any type of national economic improvement, seems a little unreasonable, especially considering the magnitude of dependency on DACA.

Presently, DACA recipients fall between the ages of 16-35, and because they came to America as children (which is the basis of DACA), they have spent most of their lives here. The only thing that differentiates them from other American citizens is a piece of paper, which begs the question: Is a piece of paper all that defines what is American? Does a piece of paper determine who gets to take a shot at the American dream? Does not having that paper mean that despite the fact that this program has worked relatively successfully for the past five years, that it is okay to take away established lives and families and send them back to the problems they came here to escape from? These questions with gray answers are all that DACA beneficiaries are certain of about their futures at the moment.

Trump has decided to end DACA by returning the responsibility of immigration policy to Congress, who ironically enough is the only hope of preventing these people from being deported. In all this politics of immigration, the reasons people immigrate are not stressed enough. The dream of a DREAMer is the safety net, payback of struggle and hard work and a chance of survival even on low income that lacks in places being immigrated from.

Not having DACA in the first place would have been something different but specifically trying to terminate such a program undoubtedly sets American values up for self-sabotage. And all for what? No substantial gain except making a point that we are not the America we preach to be?

Malaika Jawed is a first-year with a matriculating major. Her column, "If Not Our Own, Then Someone's," runs on alternate Fridays. 


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