No one knows or understands what the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will look like, and fear is growing among 800,000 potentially deportable children and young adults across the United States and 7,800 of these American “Dreamers” locally.
In this system, recipients are allowed to work legally via work permits that require submitting detailed applications. President Barack Obama created the system, which required courage and trust on the part of the recipients and applicants for reasons that are now clear: The information on those applications could be used for immigration enforcement – meaning detention and/or deportation for recipients brought to the United States as children, often with no connection to their country of origin.
President Donald Trump ended the related Deferred Action for Parents of Americans in June, but has changed his mind many times on DACA.
On the campaign trail he promised to end the program on “Day One” of his presidency, calling it “unconstitutional executive amnesty.” But during a press conference in January he told reporters, “We’re going to show great heart.” Now there is talk in Congress that the Trump administration may use the continuation of the program as incentive to help pay for his border wall with Mexico.
Ten state attorneys general have promised to sue the Trump administration by Sept. 5 if the program is not ended, though. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who’s leading the threat, made it explicit in a letter to the Justice Department back in June.
Dreamers are being encouraged to prepare for the end of the program, instead of panicking. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center has recently prepared a realistic guide for DACA recipients to help them prepare for its possible cancellation.
Obama made a promise to children that if they followed a process, they would be protected and allowed to work legally; obtain protections Americans take for granted; and live a life without fear of deportation. Through no fault of their own, those Dreamers are now living in terror of deportation to countries they no longer know, and where they often have no family.
This is not the American promise to immigrants offered to millions of people who emigrated to America throughout our history – descendants of whom now occupy the White House.
Emmanuel “Manny” Lusardi is an East Cambridge resident and a longtime advocate for immigrant rights. He serves as the liaison for immigrant affairs to the Office of the Vice-Mayor.