The lives of 8,00,000 young immigrants who entered the United States as minors — including an estimated 6,000 Indians — was thrown into turmoil on Tuesday after the Trump administration rescinded DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allowed them a renewable two-year permit to study and work in America.
Killing DACA, a program birthed by President Obama, was a Trump campaign pledge. But under pressure from US corporations, Trump made a minor concession in lobbing the ball to Congress, asking it to legislate the matter while deferring action for six months.
Having sometimes expressed sympathy for the so-called “Dreamers,” the young immigrants who have no criminal record other than coming in or being brought to the US illegally, Trump also bailed out of making the announcement himself, leaving the task to his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, part of the right wing group that has called for hardline measures against immigration.
In his announcement at the Justice Department made even as hundreds of Dreamers and their supporters demonstrated in front of the White House and elsewhere, Sessions trashed President Obama’s executive order that gave life and hope to the 8,00,000 dreamers, calling it an “open-ended circumvention of immigration law through unconstitutional authority by the executive branch.” He said the program was unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny even as supporters of the program geared up to challenge the roll back in court.
As per the latest notification, the Department of Homeland Security with immediate effect will no longer accept new DACA applications, which means if an individual minor is in the US illegally or has been brought in illegally, there is no protection against deportation – a principal guarantee that President Obama’s executive order gave.
The agency also said those currently enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire; those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018, will be permitted to apply for two-year renewal as long as they do so by October 5.
Trump administration officials said the gradual draw-down of the program was a humane way of addressing the issue – one that is very close to the heart of the nativist core constituency that voted for Trump, and which believe illegal immigrants are stealing American jobs.
But critics of the rescinding, Democrats and many Republicans, chaffed at the action even as the lives of thousands of young Dreamers were turned upside down.
While some Dreamers have promised to stay and fight it out in court, the rescindment is expected to face many legal challenges with support from human rights and civil liberties organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union. “Today is a cruel day for Dreamers, our families, and all Americans,” the ACLU said in a statement. The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance called it “a despicable move, part of a white supremacist agenda that aims to oppress and criminalize workers, immigrants, and young people of color.”