Naked Opinion

DACA: Electoral Selling Point or Sincere Concern?

DACA
DACA is a fairly simple compromise both parties could and should make. It neither grants amnesty nor dictates a mass deportation.

DACA is a fairly simple compromise both parties could and should make. It neither grants amnesty nor dictates a mass deportation. If the presidential candidates are not using immigration solely as a selling point but actually have a sincere concern for the issue, why aren’t they compromising and discussing an inclusive, bipartisan policy that is staring them in the face, asks Jaqueline Villalpa Arroyo.

As the haunting reality of Donald Trump’s victory in the Indiana primary saturates the media this week, immigrants all over the U.S. have become increasingly restless over the thought that Trump will actually have a chance at winning the presidential election. How could this be? How could a person who suggests mass deportations actually become the Republican party nominee? Easy. That’s the reason why.

With anti-immigrant sentiments proliferating as our obstructionist Congress does nothing about the issue, Trump easily cashed in on the frustration for votes. But is that all immigration is to Trump? Just a selling point?

 

DACA: The Obvious Need To Compromise

Commenting on my last article, Richard Wagner (also a staff writer of The Pavlovic Today), shared an intriguing thought: “I honestly think the politicians play the ‘No Amnesty’ crowd and the ‘Open Borders’ crowds against each other…Those who say, deport them all and build a wall, don’t realize that the politicians they elect don’t actually plan to do that. They’ll say it, but all they really plan to do is block efforts by the other side at ‘amnesty’.”

Hence, if Trump is using anti-immigration sentiments only as a selling point (while continuing to oppose amnesty) — how will immigration reform ever advance if he becomes president? Similarly, how will a Democratic president progress with an amnesty proposal with evident opposition from Republicans in Congress? The answer has been in front of us the whole time: we need a compromise mirrored by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs.  

 

What Are These Hot-Button Topics?

After a decade of consideration of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, Congress constantly failed to address this issue of undocumented youth in the country. In response, President Barack Obama issued a directive to enact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on June 15, 2012. Through DACA, DREAMers (those who would benefit from the DREAM Act) are able to obtain a two year renewable work-study permit—formally known as Employment Authorization permit—that provides immunity against deportation but no legal status in the country. In order to apply for a permit, the recipient must meet certain requirements including the following:

  1. must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  2. must have come to the United States before reaching the age of 16
  3. must have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
  4. must have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
  5. must have entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
  6. 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 is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; This stipulation is further detailed under the National Security and Public Safety Guidelines.

Similarly, on November 10, 2014, President Obama issued a directive for the expansion of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. This policy was deeply connected to the fight to keep families together — to give immunity from deportation to parents who could be subject to separation from their children who are American citizens.

DACA: More than just Acronyms

DACA
This picture is owned by Donald Trump and has been posted at his official twitter account

Although President Barack Obama’s DAPA is at a standstill and his authority remains in question in relation to his executive orders, there is no doubt future presidents could summon the political will needed to ratify the policy in Congress. While DAPA remains inactive, DACA has been a success since its enactment in 2012. Under its detailed stipulations, the overall focus of the policy is to give immunity against deportation and grant an Employment Authorization permit to those eligible.

As a result of granting this permit, the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP) has quantified some of the effects of DACA experienced by the beneficiaries: 59% said they obtained a new job, 45% increased their job earnings, 57% obtained driver’s licences, along with other indirect effects of the permit, such as opening a bank account. Ultimately, by empowering more people to contribute to the American workforce, DACA has provided a boost to the economy with more legal earners paying more taxpayer dollars to local and state governments, as well as the federal government

Aside from the plethora of acronyms and numerical data, DACA is a fairly simple compromise both parties could and should make. It neither grants amnesty nor dictates a mass deportation. It empowers immigrants to become active contributors to the American society whether it be attending college, obtaining a job, or starting a new business. Moreover, DACA’s National Security and Public Safety Guidelines and required biometrics screening will act as a filter for those “rapists,” “drug-dealers,” and those who “do not pay taxes.” It will not entitle a recipient to the same benefits as American citizens such as the right to vote, obtain health care, or any federally funded program; however, it will allow them to integrate fully to society they have always been a part of.  

If Wagner is right, and our presidential candidates will only continue a cycle that does not include the promises made in their campaigns, how will immigration reform progress? If the presidential candidates are not using immigration solely as a selling point but actually have a sincere concern for the issue, why aren’t they compromising and discussing an inclusive, bipartisan policy that is staring them in the face?

What do you think? Is immigration a sincere concern or just a political tactic to mobilize voters?

Copyright: Rena Schild
Editorial Credit: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

3 Comments

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  • My biggest concern here is the rights of these immigrants. Does this bill give them some kind of legal status? Or is it merely “we won’t deport you”? When people are here illegally, they are easy to exploit by unscrupulous corporations. They can be worked longer hours in appalling conditions, cheated out of overtime wages, etc. and these workers have no legal recourse. I’d be willing to support something like the above if I can be sure that when these immigrants are in the work place, they have the same basic protections as any American citizen.

    • Hi Richard,

      Thank you for commenting! As the policies stand, neither DACA nor DAPA gives recipients legal status– just immunity from deportation. Now, regarding your concern about equal protections under the law– it’s still a topic that is being discussed, especially with Trump’s “plan” about denying citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. Although that topic is still on the table, if DACA and DAPA were to be enacted and expanded to include all undocumented immigrants, exploited workers would no longer fear speaking out about the abuse experienced in their workplace because they would not be subject to deportation. Moreover, as a result of the Work Authorization permits, workers will have more flexibility in the workforce than ever before; Many will be encouraged to obtain different jobs– leaving the long hours and appalling conditions behind.

      -Jaqueline V. Arroyo

About the author

Jaqueline Villalpa Arroyo

Jaqueline Villalpa Arroyo

Jaqueline Villalpa Arroyo is a Donaghey Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she is pursuing Systems Engineering, French, and Journalism as possible fields of study. Jaqueline is also a 2015 Yale Young Global Scholars Program alumna, where she received the Director’s Award in the Politics, Law and Economics session. Her passions include immigration reform advocacy, political studies, poetry and photography.

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