We’ve heard a lot about immigration from the States recently and all of it makes us really thankful that Canada exists and we live here. That being said, it’s a good idea to know what’s going on with our neighbours to the south (and why so many people might be deported soon). Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will be removing the Obama-era executive order, DACA. Here’s what that means and how it will affect hundreds of thousands of people.
What is DACA?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (or DACA) was signed into being as an executive order by Barack Obama in 2012. The program essentially allows children who were brought into America undocumented a grace period after they reach the age of majority to apply for American citizenship or get the required visa to remain in the country.
The program allows these children who, through no fault of their own, are technically living in America illegally, to get jobs, drivers licences and educations without fear of being deported.
What did Trump do?
Trump (with a lot of input from Jeff Sessions) has rescinded the program and tasked congress with coming up with an alternative. He has created a six-month grace period during which congress is expected to approve a viable alternative to the program and reform U.S. immigration policy. Trump has said that he wants to ‘deal with DACA with heart’ and acknowledges that those in the program are ‘incredible kids,’ but this move fulfills a campaign promise he made to dismantle the program.
Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2017
Who is affected?
There are about 800,000 people–known as ‘dreamers’–benefiting from the program right now. The cute name comes from the 2001 proposed DREAM Act which would offer legal status to undocumented persons who opted to attend college or join the military. The bill has never been passed, but the dreamer name stuck.
Now we wait to hear from congress. They have six months to come up with an alternative to DACA or ‘legalize’ it. While Trump has confirmed that anyone with a current visa will be able to keep it until it expires, if congress doesn’t come up with an alternative, more than 300,000 people will lose their legal status in 2018 with no way of renewing it.
The thing is, these dreamers are going to college, getting jobs, paying taxes and generally contributing to American society. Most of them have never known life in any other country and effectively consider themselves Americans. To deport them means to send them to countries they have never known. Not only is the government facing the challenge of figuring out how to either keep or deport 800,000 people, but 800,000 people’s livelihoods have been put in limbo for the next six months.