Trump-DACA debacle, negotiating for young immigrants


Trump-DACA debacle, negotiating for young immigrants

Zayed Abdalla

“Dream Catcher, Dream Snatcher, Dream Basher” were some of the wittier contenders for this week’s article title. As you can imagine, President Trump’s recent revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) has caused quite a stir among the American public. With the repeal, hundreds of thousands of young men and women will no longer enjoy the temporary protection from deportation that DACA offered. However, the “Dream” may not be over for young immigrants lacking legal status. Although a little less than two weeks have passed since DACA’s repeal, Trump has already been sending some mixed signals. This prompts me to write not a scathing critique of the President’s cruelty, but more of an investigative discussion on President Trump’s decision.  Here’s the situation:

First, I find it important to clarify some ambiguity—as I myself was confused—regarding the two federal initiatives currently in conversation. DACA was established through executive order by the Obama Administration in 2012. Under DACA, individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as minors are given renewable two-year periods of deferred action from deportation. These individuals are allowed to work and go to school in the meantime, until more binding legislation is passed. The DREAM Act, on the other hand, or the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act is a legislative proposal first introduced in Congress in 2001. The DREAM Act saw its climax between the years of 2009-11, when it was defeated in Congress. If passed, the bill would provide about 800,000 individuals—most of whom are in their twenties—a pathway to legal status here in the United States.

Both have been used interchangeably in the past, and now again in conversations in light of recent events. However, this is eroneous. While one is a band aid of sorts, the other provides a long-term remedy for the young immigrants currently in “Legal Limbo.” Obviously a legislative bill passed by Congress would officially solve the problem and provide a long-standing solution for the 800,000 individuals awaiting legal status. DACA was only a temporary remedy, yet, it at least offered some reassurance. With Trump’s repeal of DACA, “Dreamers” are back in open water, that is, unless Congress decides to act.

Trump has justifiably received a great deal of backlash for this. The thought of endangering the livelihoods of thousands of prospective hopeful citizens is sickening. However, his messages on social media have clouded the situation even further. On Sept. 14, for example, Trump released a conflicting message.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military,” Trump tweeted. “Really!…They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own—brought in by parents at young age. Plus big border security.”

Wait, I’m confused. Besides the obvious incoherence, what message is he trying to send? Isn’t this the guy whose bigotry has been further enflaming racial divides in this country? What are the President’s motivations? What exactly is going on here? And what does the Trump hope to achieve? 

My only explanation: A brilliantly malicious political maneuver. Trump may be trying to save face with his voter base while simultaneously strong-arming Congress into supporting his border-security initiatives. This may be the President’s way of providing an ultimatum of sorts to Democrats and the coalition of Anti-Trump Republicans currently in Congress. His actions say: “Either revamp security measures on the border and strengthen immigration laws to my liking, or face the deportation of 800,000 young men and women. Your move.”

This is more than obvious as he’s given Congress a six month deadline to solve the problem before “Dreamers” begin to feel the effects of DACA’s phasing out. In this situation Trump fulfills his “obligations” to his voters and base, while passing the responsibility onto Congress. It would mean playing a game of politics where the ball is equivalent to 800,000 young lives, and the stakes are high. Trump has always been a gambling man, and I don’t see Congress willing to call his bluff. 

Could this actually have been a brilliant political maneuver by the president? Malicious, selfish and cruel, but brilliant nevertheless? Trump would get everything he wants, as well as the gloating rights for “uniting” Congress to act. Democrats and Anti-Trump Republicans will have to concede to the measures and demands sought after in his border-security and immigration proposals while discarding the possibility of a filibuster once the bill is created. If this doesn’t happen, “Dreamers” are in grave trouble. 

I have hope, and I truly hope members of Congress will agree to negotiate for the sake of these young immigrants. There are about 800,000 lives on the line, and although I fear the probably stringent immigration laws and border security measures soon to be proposed by the Trump administration, I value to a higher degree the safe protection and retention of the individuals currently waiting for their opportunity in the American Dream.