Our anger about the DACA repeal is misplaced

The repeal of DACA is not the problem; it’s what it represents

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 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. 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, in my opinion, 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.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that DACA is not an ongoing program. 


  1. “This represents an attack on immigrants.” – total misconception. On the contrary, repealing DACA is something that brings back the justice for legal immigrants. No-one is attacking them. People covered under DACA are not immigrants, they are criminals who broke the law and entered the country without being authorized to do so. And DACA provides them with similar benefits that the legal immigrants who followed the law and entered the country properly have. So how is that just? DACA goes against the law since basic principle is that crime must be punished and good rewarded.

  2. Actually, YOU have DACA wrong. It is NOT an AMNESTY. And people are not against immigrants, just the hoardes of ILLEGAL ALIENS who squat in our country, spending $135 BILLION tax payers $$$.

  3. DACA is a legislative effort done through the executive branch. Funny how nobody cares to cover that. All Trump has said is that Congress should make the laws, which also happens to be what the supreme law of the land says.

  4. I’d like to note that some of this information is not correct.

    DACA applies to people who came at the age of 16 or under before 2007! The program was launched in 2012 by Obama. Along with a work permit, there is the availability to get a drivers license and you receive a social security number.

    “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.” This is not true. There is no ability for a person under DACA to get a path to citizenship. DACA is NOT a visa.

    All of this information can be found on https://www.uscis.gov/archive/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca

  5. This description of DACA is factually inaccurate- DACA is not an amnesty program. The legal status granted by the program is temporary, so once the permits expire former recipients will be vulnerable to deportation. Whether ICE will actually make these folks a priority for deportation is a different question, however, students who are currently working will no longer be able to do so (meaning that many will have to drop out of their degree program), and they may not be able to renew drivers’ licenses or other documentation. Students who continue to work without authorization could be caught up in workplace raids. I think it’s accurate to say that DACA was never a long-term solution, but the description of DACA in this article sorely underestimates its importance in the lives of its recipients/the risks to former DACA recipients.