DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an Obama-era,US immigration program that was designed to manage the issue of individuals who entered the US illegally as minors with their parents. They are still in the country but are not US citizens and they do not have a clear path to citizenship, nor do they have a legal right to remain in the US. Today, many are young adults going to school or working or volunteering.
And this makes for a very hard immigration case. The ugly question that homelanders are wrestling with is Should they be deported? Well, that feels downright inhumane and many (dare I say most?) Americans do not support ejecting them. These young people didn't do anything wrong and the US is the only country they know. They speak the language, know the culture, and they were educated in the US school system. In a sense they are already Americans. One could even argue that they have a better claim to being American than my children who do speak English but who didn't grow up in the US, who went to French public schools and who have had to learn US culture while on vacation.
DACA was a step toward regularizing the status of these "Dreamers." It gave them some protection from deportation and allowed them to work and go to school. A look at the requirements for entry into the DACA program is instructive. Note that some of these young adults appear to be veterans.
"To qualify for DACA, unauthorized immigrants have to meet six criteria: (1) applicants had no lawful status as of June 15, 2012 (i.e., an unauthorized immigrant as of June 15, 2012); (2) applicants came to the United States before the age of 16; (3) applicants must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; (4) applicants must also have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007; (5) applicants must be currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; (6) applicants cannot have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors. In addition to these DACA qualification criteria, an individual must be 15 years or older to submit the DACA application." Pope, N. G. (2016). The effects of DACAmentation: the impact of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on unauthorized immigrants. Journal of Public Economics, 143, p. 100.
DACA was not, however, a long-term solution. As you may have seen from the headlines (if you read the English speaking media) the US president has shut down this program and tossed the whole mess to the US Congress. The debate has begun and it is ugly.
I am shutting out the noise so I can think about this one and do some research. Let's start with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. This report has the number of DACA requests and denials over the past few years plus information by US state. Very interesting reading. The top four countries of origin for DACA beneficiaries are Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras but the entire list contains 24 countries (Poland is one) and a category called "unknown." In the states of residence in the US California and Texas are the top two by far and there is a category called "missing" in that list.
This seems to me like a case of accidental Americans. Without asking for it, an accidental American is subject to American law (in general, let's leave taxes out at this moment). These young people are accidental illegals. They didn't knowingly become illegal residents. They have grown up without realizing they were subject to a different law from childhood (deportation). If an accidental American has a right to renounce American citizenship, these people should have the right to renounce deportation. I am simplifying things, because it's not an individual's decision to do so, but they are in a situation in which, if they are subject to the law of deportation, their lives are irreparably harmed, much like the life of an accidental American is harmed when they are called to account by the IRS. Even more, because while the accidental American can go on living where he does, the accidental illegal has to give up the only home they know.
I say, give them legal status and a path to citizenship if they so desire it. And in the future that same legal status should eventually be awarded to all children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents, pending certain criteria, like with the Dreamers. It's the only humane thing to do. It's against the law? Then change the law.
This is a tough one. How does one show compassion for these unfortunate individuals, while at the same time demonstrate that what their parents did is unacceptable in order to prevent this from reoccurring in the future? There's plenty of blame to go around - Americans who encouraged illegal immigration for cheap labour, lax enforcement laws, etc.
I'd say an amnesty with a path to citizenship is the way to go, but what is to prevent the situation from just happening again? A wall? That won't help, as most illegal immigrants come on planes apparently.
It will be interesting to see what brilliant minds in congress come up with...
By the way, Canada has the same problem without DACA. No solutions here it seems.
Maria, How about 'involuntary migrants?"
Bubblebustin, I understand the argument that no one wants to create an incentive to bring children into a country illegally. The problem is that the incentive was there, is there and always will be there because parents want to be with their children and vice versa. On the other hand ther are some very good reasons to discurage undocumented aliens from smuggling in their children. The children can fall prey to unscrupulous people on the way, they can be sold, they can be stopped at the border and detained under horrible conditions sometimes even when they are not being trafficked. There is a truly horrible tale of a child (Tabitha age 5) whose mother had been granted asylum in Canada and so her mother sent for her. She got seperated from her uncle in the airport and was detained in Belgium for 2 months at a facility in Brussels airport. Her mother tried to get the situation straightened out with lawyers and the Belgian authorities reportedly refused to reply. The child was eventually deported alone back to the DRC where she waited at the airport for 6 hours until a DRC government official came for her. Now this was a case where the child had the right to be reunited with her mother in Canada and yet this was how she was treated. A story like that kinda ruins your faith in humanity. And makes you wonder how much worse it could have been if she or her mother had indeed been in an irregular situation.
There have been a number of articles in Canada about how this presents (yet another) opportunity for Canada to attract educated and fluent immigrants given increasingly restrictive US immigration and related policies.
A pathway to regularization seems the only reasonable option (usual criminal and security checks of course).
Andrew, I think they are right and it is an opportunity for Canada and for any other state seeking to attract the highly skilled. Americans do not seem to understand that it is a competition. :-)
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