Last week, the Trump administration announced it will end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months, unless Congress passes alternative legislation. DACA was created in 2012 to allow young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to temporarily avoid deportation and gain permission to work, study, and obtain drivers’ licenses on a two-year renewal basis. Without an immediate solution in sight, the lives of almost 800,000 DACA participants hang in the balance, faced with the possibility of returning to their impoverished or politically unstable countries that many of them have not seen in years and don’t remember at all.
The Daily Iowan Editorial Board joins the Des Moines Register Editorial Board, UISG, UI Shared Governance, Iowa City School District, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, and others across our state and country in standing with DREAMers and all those affected by this decision.
DACA recipients at the University of Iowa were granted the same right to pursue postsecondary education as their fellow Hawkeyes, upholding our school’s values of diversity, community, and excellence. We reject Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ egregiously inflated claims that they have “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans,” recognizing that DACA recipients are not just good for our country’s economy, but vital to the integrity of the American dream.
DACA has never been a permanent solution. As we’ve seen since the early days of this administration, executive orders put forth with the stroke of a pen can as easily be rescinded in the same fashion. It is now imperative for members of Congress to end 15 years of twiddling their thumbs over passing the DREAM Act. The time to act and secure the futures of almost 800,000 undocumented immigrants — young people who came to this country at no fault of their own, who have no criminal record, who go to school, work, and serve in our military — is long overdue.
In his press briefing, Sessions asserted that rescinding DACA is in response to its implementation’s circumvention of constitutional law. This claim has not been arbitrated by the Supreme Court, but it remains at the center of national debate. Nevertheless, it is not former President Obama who is now facing the possibility of deportation. It is not Obama who has built a life in this country over the past five years under the assumption of safety. President Trump has effectively placed DACA recipients in an inhumane legal limbo by ending the measure without a foreseeable legal alternative. And while he has said, “They shouldn’t be very worried” and will be treated “with heart,” his attorney general’s fear-mongering statements — that DACA has contributed to “terrible humanitarian consequences” and the loss of American jobs to “illegal aliens” — tell a much harsher story about how this administration values the fate of dedicated students and workers who did not choose to come to this country illegally. Sessions’ announcement placed great emphasis on upholding “the impartial rule of law.” But what does it mean when a government’s efforts to uphold the law jeopardize people who were too young to be held accountable for breaking it in the first place?
The DI Editorial Board implores Congress to find a permanent legislative solution that will give undocumented immigrants a tangible path to citizenship. We do not believe that DREAMers should be punished for the U.S. government’s failure to provide them stable legal security in this country. We firmly assert that they deserve to be here, not because they benefit our economy and military, but because the United States is their home just as much as it is ours.