Dreams Turned to Nightmares: Trump administration ends DACA program
Last Tuesday, the Trump White House decided to end the Obama-era executive order protecting undocumented individuals from deportation who came to the U.S as children. The program has approximately 800,000 recipients, 90 percent of which are employed.
DACA recipients, for all intents and purposes, are citizens of the United States. They pay taxes, they go to school, they have families. Many of them know English as a first language, and most of them do not know another land other than the country they currently reside in.
UncharteDomain spoke with Jamie Velasquez Rojas, a 22-year-old dreamer and someone who has been living in Northern Virginia her whole life. Jamie applied for DACA when she was in high school.
“My biggest fear right now, to be honest, is ICE finding my family and me since my name is on the records. We could easily be found and deported”
The program, which was implemented in 2012, was created based on executive action from President Obama due to Congress’ failure to act on immigration reform. While many criticized the move as unconstitutional and an overreach of power, proponents say this was necessary on humanitarian grounds. Sending children back to a country they have never known because their parents brought them over illegally seemed cruel even to those with hard-line immigration views.
The actions of Trump, as always, leave a lot of people in difficult predicaments. In interviews on the campaign trail, the President stated that DACA recipients “have to go,” implying that all those recognized by the program would be deported. However, soon after he became president, Trump seemed to assure those maintaining their status under DACA that they’d be taken care of. Even after announcing the decision, the president seemed to regret the decision he made. While President Trump ended the executive order that protected individuals under DACA, he noted that if Congress did not legalize it, he would revisit the issue.
The DACA program enjoys overwhelming support amongst the majority of Americans, including almost 3 and 4 Trump voters.
“I am highly upset, especially for my husband and my children.” Velasquez Rojas had stated. “I’m just praying and putting it in God’s hands.”
The program requires those protected to renew their status every 2 years. If they don’t or the program ends (for some unexpected reason…), dreamers could lose some very important things they rely on. “When it expires, which is next year for me, I may not be able to work, keep my driver’s license, go to school.” She mentioned.
Similar to when Trump first announced the Transgender Military ban in July, the plan to phase out the DACA lacks key details. While the administration has made it clear they will not be accepting new DACA applications after two years, there has been some confusion as to what to do with the 800,000 people currently living here that would no longer be able to legally work. While there have been no deportation plans noted, there has been confusion as to what the endgame could be if not for mass deportations.
If Dreamers were to be deported, or even kept from legally working, it could have devastating effects on the economy. Virginia alone could stand to lose over 700 million dollars in GDP annually and some economists have predicted that ending DACA will cost $463 billion nationally over the next 10 years.
“We work hard. We love this country. Some of us are raising our kids here. We're here to better ourselves and not be an issue. This country is great and it's my home.”