As of September 5th 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is no longer accepting or processing first time applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), fulfilling the promise Donald Trump has been making since the early days of his candidacy for president.
DACA is an American immigration policy that allowed certain individuals who entered the country as minors to be deferred from deportation for two years at a time and be eligible for a work permit.
DACA was first introduced by former president Barack Obama in 2012 in an attempt to protect young undocumented immigrants who came into the United States with their parents, known as “dreamers”, from deportation. The program has various restrictions about the age, education and criminal record of the applicant. It currently allows over 700,000 immigrants to safely live and work in the US. One immigrant, Monica Camacho, who was granted DACA status, expressed her gratitude for the program and said in an interview for the Washington Post, “[she] was so excited because [she] really wanted to get a driver’s license and a Social Security number.” Camacho came to the US from Mexico in 2002, when she was five years old and obtained DACA status and became a Dreamer in 2015.
While most DACA members share the sentiments of Camacho, many people believe the policy is not a real solution and that much more has to be done before the US is a safe and welcoming place for all immigrants. Patrick Taurel, a legal fellow at the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit and pro-immigration organizations says, “[The organization] know[s] [DACA] has made a tremendous beneficial impact in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, but it’s not enough. Congress needs to step in and create a permanent solution.”
The Trump administration agrees with this statement, but instead of building on DACA with additional legislation, Trump’s senior advisors are pushing him to repeal the program completely which would threaten over seven hundred thousand Dreamers with deportation. Though DACA is no longer accepting applications, Trump is hesitant to repeal it completely, as he would be faced with huge backlash. As Obama said in January of 2017, “The incoming president understands imagery, you’ve got a female student valedictorian that did nothing wrong, and now you want to deport her to a place she’s never been before.”
The DACA policies will remain active for the foreseeable future, but CA and Head of School Rick Hardy published a statement via email to all students, faculty, and parents this past month, stating the school’s policy on DACA and its possible removal. Hardy responded to the detainment of two Excel Academy students at a US Border Patrol checkpoint in New Hampshire and wrote, “To know that adolescents just like our students could have their educations derailed and their futures threatened because of this decision offends my values as an educator.” These sentiments were echoed in Hardy’s commencement speech and many of the faculty chapels given at the start of the school year.
CA’s administration remains determined to protect students, and will not share students’ records and information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any government agency without permission from the student or judicial order. Hardy and other members of the administration stand by their beliefs that, “[Trump’s] decision places our neighbors and fellow Americans at risk of being taken from their homes, families, and communities, and it diminishes their worth as humans solely because of their citizenship status in this country. It opposes the spirit of our nation as well as the values of our school community, and we intend to do everything that we can to support CA students, graduates, and families who are legally and personally affected by this decision.”