7 September 2017
…fate of 800,000 ‘Dreamers’” now with Congress
By Frances Nwabufoe
The Trump administration announced on Tuesday it plans to scrap the programme giving temporary legal immigration status to people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children.
They are among about 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ allowed under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, programme to study and work in the U.S., but now face possible deportation at the end of their current visas.
The decision was expected, having been a campaign pledge by Mr. Donald Trump last year. The logic behind the decision was that then President Obama acted unconstitutionally by outflanking Congress, and that ‘Dreamers’ were depriving Americans of jobs.
Mr. Obama’s executive order was signed in 2012. It amounted to an amnesty and prompted thousands of children of illegal immigrants to come forward and enter mainstream American life. President Obama said he executed the DACA order in 2012 because Congress refused to act on this issue with a comprehensive immigration policy.
By far the largest group benefiting from the DACA programme are Mexicans, followed by Guatemalans, Koreans, El Salvadorans and Filipinos and the largest numbers live in California, Texas, Florida and New York. The list includes young people from China and India. Today, DACA recipients range in age from 15 to 36, with the majority being adults.
Congress has now been given six months to reform the U.S. immigration laws – leaving some hope for Dreamers to be allowed to stay.
Those protected under DACA are known as ‘Dreamers’ and 787,580 have been granted approval. To apply, they must have been younger than 31 on 15 June 2012, when the programme began, and “undocumented”, lacking legal immigration status. They must have arrived in the U.S. before turning 16 and lived there continuously since June 2007.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions clarified that the existing rules will stay in place for six months to give Congress a chance to pass new laws that would hold up in the courts. President Donald Trump later added that if Congress doesn’t find a way to pass a legal version of DACA, he will look into it again.
The estimates say there are about 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ in America today, none of whom can legally vote, while the August jobs report showed 7.1 million Americans are out of work.