D-Day for DACA

September 4th, 2017

DACA, (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), is on the chopping block. All indications are that Trump will bow to anti-immigrant pressure and suspend DACA tomorrow even though 80% of Republicans favor DACA, including 75% of Trump’s base.

It’s time for a little review. Just what is DACA anyway?

DACA was an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, conceived, drafted, and implemented during the most obstructed Presidential administration in American history. The stated goal of the Republican leadership in both the House and Senate was to block every single thing Obama wanted to do, EVEN IF THEY WERE IN FAVOR OF IT. They wanted to hogtie Obama in any and every way. So, sensible immigration reform was impossible.

For purely humanitarian reasons (and a lot of other good reasons), Obama went around the do-nothing Congress and implemented DACA. He had to do something.

DACA is NOT amnesty. DACA is NOT a path to citizenship. DACA was never meant to be any of those things. It is simply a temporary respite from the threat of deportation for a certain category of undocumented people. You are eligible for protection under DACA if:

1. You were brought here illegally as a child under the age of 16 prior to June 15, 2007

2. You were under the age of 31 when the policy went into effect in 2012.

3. You are either in school, or have a high school diploma, or are a military veteran.

4. Your criminal record is mostly clean.

If all of those conditions are met, you are free from the threat of immediate deportation.

Ten Attorneys General from conservative states like Texas and Idaho have levied enormous pressure on President Trump, threatening to sue by tomorrow, Tuesday, September 5 if DACA isn’t rescinded. But let’s be very clear – these 10 AGs and governors are ultra-right wing anti-immigration hard-liners. 80% of Republicans support DACA, including 75% of Trump’s base, mostly on sound business, economic, and humanitarian grounds. And of course Democrats like me overwhelming favor DACA, and don’t think it goes nearly far enough.

Removing 800,000 DACA people from our country would rip teachers out of classrooms, doctors out of medical centers, business owners with employees out of their offices, and have an enormous negative impact on the economy. DACA people buy cars, they own houses, they pay taxes. They are American in every way except on paper. They didn’t choose to break the law. They were brought here as children. And from a philosophy of law perspective, intention is everything.

And no one really talks about this, but many DACA people are parents themselves whose children are of course citizens by birth. Are jack-booted federal agents going to bust down the door in the middle of the night, rip parents away from their children, and throw their children into foster care? Is that who we are America?

People who oppose DACA are people who go after children for the “sins” of their fathers. Where I come from, we call those people creeps.

It’s time for comprehensive immigration reform. And DACA, a temporary stop-gap measure, is an important step in the right direction.

Peter Bolland

Peter Bolland is the philosophy and humanities department chair at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California where he teaches world religions, Asian philosophy, world mythology, and ethics. Bolland is also a columnist for both Unity Magazine and the San Diego Troubadour. An award winning singer-songwriter and poet, Bolland draws on the world’s wisdom traditions as a frequent lecturer and performer throughout the San Diego region.
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