Earlier this year, President Donald Trump terminated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order by former President Barack Obama which gave undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children protection from deportation for two years. This order was also renewable.
Trump said he would support Congress working on a bill to put this into law, and many Republicans said while they did agree with DACA in principle, they thought it was wrong that it came through executive action.
With the legislative year coming to a close, time is running out to find a way to protect DACA recipients. Trump famously promised Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that he would make this happen — but there hasn’t been much activity on this issue since then.
As someone who hasn’t been in government for very long, Trump may not realize how long it takes to write and pass legislation — setting a deadline isn’t effective — which is evident from each time Congress increases the debt ceiling, only to increase it again months later. Dreamers, many of whom have never lived outside of the U.S. as adults, deserve a way to stay and a pathway to citizenship. Our immigration system is broken, and an act similar to the DREAM Act would not fix everything, but it’s a good place to start.
Instead of working on a way to keep DACA recipients protected from deportation, last week Republicans worked to pass a bill that about 49 percent of Americans oppose, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll published by CNBC. In contrast, a majority support a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted in September. DACA recipients could be forced to leave the only country they’ve ever known because of a political ploy to make sure Trump has a victory. The tax bill, which some are calling the #GOPtaxscam, shows how the Trump administration likes its legislative achievements — behind closed doors with only Republicans and above all: fast. So fast there wasn’t enough time to type out all the parts of the bill so some parts were handwritten.
While Trump says the bill would be bad for him, it’s clear it protects both him and his family by cutting the estate tax and lowering corporate taxes. Graduate students, many of whom rely on waivers for tuition and stipends to live, would be taxed instead. Republicans who questioned the bill ended up voting for it anyway.
It’s clear even though Republicans said they would support protecting DACA recipients, they aren’t actually eager to follow through. If they were, they would have done so already before passing a bill that actually hurts many of the middle-class Americans they claim to care about.
While Sen. Jeff Flake held out support for the bill in exchange for assurances of protection for DACA recipients, this probably won’t happen in time. It’s important to remember while DACA relieved some stress for a lot of people who arrived in the U.S. as children, it wasn’t a true immigration status but rather a form of legal limbo. According to the Center for American Progress, approximately 800,000 people were given temporary relief through DACA — which allows them to get better jobs with better pay, increasing tax revenue. DACA has been good for the economy. Passing an act similar to the DREAM Act with a pathway to citizenship would preserve those benefits while also allowing these young people to not have to worry about whether they will be deported.
Nicole Dan is a UF political science and journalism senior. Her column appears on Mondays.