Caught in the Crosshairs of the DACA Battle – United States Citizen Children of Dreamers

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) was executed on June 15, 2012 to provide temporary protection from deportation for minor children (DREAMERS) who were brought in the United States illegally by their parents or adult relatives. A successful applicant for DACA had to:

  • be under the age of 31
  • entered illegally into the United States before age 16
  • lived continuously in the United States since 06/15/2007
  • enrolled in High School, graduated from High School of have a GED or
  • been honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.

The Obama Administration intended for DACA to provide temporary relief until Congress pass a permanent solution. We now know that rather than providing a permanent solution for DREAMERS,on September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration moved to rescind the Obama Administration’s DACA executive order by ordering the Attorney General to end DAC and give congress six months until March 5, 2018 to pass a Bill to protect DREAMERS. On February 15, 2018, Congress failed to pass a single immigration Bill that would have preserved DACA or granted permanent legal status.Fortunately, two federal District Court judges ordered that DACA could not be terminated while the lawsuits against the government were pending. See State of California v. Department of Homeland Security, case 3:17-cv-05235-MEJ (N.D. Cal.) filed 09/11/17 and Batalla Vidal v. Neilsen, case 1:16-cv-04756-NGG-JO Document 254 filed 02/13/18. Thus the DREAMERS have a temporary reprieve from the March 5, 2018 deadline. The Trump Department of Justice then moved to request an expedited hearing before the U.S. Supreme court on DREAMERS on 02/26/18. The U.S. Supreme court, in turn, refused the request for an expedited hearing opting instead for letting the case proceed through the normal judicial process.

According to the Pew Research Center article: Key Facts about unauthorized immigrants enrolled in DACA, Gustavo Lopez and Jens Manuel Krogstad , September 25, 2017; approximately 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants have received work permits and protection from deportation through DACA. A national survey, on November 11, 2217, by Tom K. Wong, professor at University of California – San Diego; The Center for American Progress; The National Immigration Law Center and United We Dream found that 25% of the 800,000 DREAMERS have United States citizen children. The Daily Beast’s Betsey Woodruff on September 7, 2017 reflected this fact when she reported that there are 200,000 United States citizen children who have DREAMERS parents.As with any population sample; some of these children are mentally and or physically impaired; some have some form of learning disability; some are victims of physical and or sexual abuse and some are gifted student and or athletes. The deliberate act of terminating DACA and the failure to pass a permanent solution for the DREAMERS did not give the proper consideration to the impact of a failed DACA policy and solution on these United States children. Like the courageous children impacted by the shooting in Florida stated, thoughts and prayers are not enough, action is needed.”

At best, these United States citizen children were viewed as collateral damage in the DACA political battle. Merriam-Webster defines collateral damage as: injury inflicted on something other than an intended target”.  These children stand to lose a parent in the most inhumane of circumstances should the DREAMERS not get permanent protection. The abrupt loss of a parent or imminent loss of a parent kick starts a chain of highly probable events. The lack of family members with legal status to serve as legal guardians may lead to foster care or worse, being placed with distant relatives who are sometime unable to financially cope with them. The fear of detection, may result in the child being pulled out of school and removed from their friends, extracurricular activities and neighborhood. Further, this fear of detection may prevent the undocumented adults from taking children to receive medical care in a timely manner. The traumatic loss of a parents may give birth to behavioral problems that often leads to anxiety and depression issues and even incarceration. The loss of a DREAMER parent’s income adds poverty to the mix of hardships.  The promise of a gifted student or athlete realizing their individual and societal potential sours into stagnation and depression.The most vulnerable of these children, the ones with some form of disability or serious medical conditions stand to lose even more.

The U.S. District Judge, Garaufis, in California, rightfully concluded that,” the Administrative Procedures Act, lets parties harmed by federal agencies get judicial review of agency decisions when they are arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with the law”. The DREAMERS relied to their detriment on the promise of the protection and relief of DACA. DREAMERS got jobs, brought home but most importantly give birth to United States citizen children. The abrupt termination of DACA with a six months period for congress to act is not enough time to protect these children who deserves the full faith and protection of their government.The underlying basis for ending DACA is grounded more in political scare tactics than facts.

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