If you walk around Vanderbilt’s campus for an hour, you will hear people talking about the state of the country or president Trump’s actions. Most recently, you’ve heard about DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era immigration policy. And, likely, you’ll hear misinformation about it.
But before we start dispelling the myths, let’s talk about what DACA actually is, because we seem to talk about DACA like everyone’s a senior political science major. But pretending that people already understand what you’re talking about can lead to vital information being left out of a conversation that affects us all.
So what exactly is DACA? DACA is an amnesty program for children that immigrated with their parents illegally. It applies to children who arrived before 2012 at the age of 16 or younger. This order allows its recipients to apply for work and school permits.
Before I end up with hate mail in my inbox and exploding pineapples at my front door, let’s get something straight. The repeal of DACA doesn’t mean that millions of undocumented children are going to get deported. That’s just not how the program works. DACA just helps a specific group of people obtain work and school permits.
A common argument against the repeal of DACA is that kids who know nothing else besides the United States will be deported and possibly split up from their families. That’s not what a repeal of DACA would mean. Honestly, repealing DACA does absolutely nothing. DACA is not an ongoing program. If you came in before June 15, 2012, you are able to get a temporary visa that can be renewed or you can work on a path to citizenship. If you came in after that date, you aren’t covered by DACA. So repealing DACA does not affect new arrivals. Immigrants who immigrated illegally after June 15, 2012 are another story. Congress plans on addressing these immigrants at some point during Trump’s tenure.
If you think DACA gives citizenship to immigrants, then you have the DREAM Act and DACA confused. The DREAM act stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. This act would eventually allow for the children of illegal immigrants, among other groups of immigrants, to have permanent residency.
In sum, repealing DACA is just a way for President Trump to make it seem like he’s making good on his campaign promises. In reality, he’s attacking a program that has already fulfilled its uses.
The issue isn’t the repeal of DACA; it’s what it represents. This represents an attack on immigrants. Trump’s attacks on immigrants don’t usually gain widespread attention until a program is being repealed. We, as Americans, should drop our occupation as armchair warriors and present a unified front on real attacks against immigrants as a whole.