Democracy Challenged: The DACA Debacle

Francis Clarke

In 2012 President Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals using executive power. This program, commonly known as DACA, allowed minors who entered the United States illegally to receive a renewable two-year period of deferment from deportation.

However, in September 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government would be rescinding the program, and questions rose of whether or not ‘dreamers’ would be deported.

Now, five months later their fate is still up in the air and in the hands of Congress. In the recent government shutdown, the Democrats tried to reach a deal with the Republicans to keep the DACA recipients in the US in the new budget proposal. Yet, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer caved on Monday, reaching a deal with the Republicans without a decision on the dreamers.

This deal will fund the government until Feb. 8. In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to negotiate with the Democrats on the fate of the dreamers, although some question whether he will keep to that promise.

Since DACA’s 2012 inception, over 800,000 people have enrolled in the program. Many have been in US for over 20 years. There are members of the Lafayette community directly affected by DACA. On Sept. 5, 2017 President Alison Byerly sent a letter to the Lafayette community responding to Sessions’ decision. She remained steadfast in her intent to protect our community members however Lafayette could, including pro bono legal services to those who may need it.

This past summer, before it was announced that DACA would be rescinded, Lafayette hired a new Dean of Equity and Inclusion, Christ Hunt. President Byerly and the Lafayette community as a whole have committed themselves to protecting the rights of our fellow students.

In contrast, the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress have no interest in those affected. On Tuesday, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that Trump’s DACA position “depends on what we get in exchange.” Trump is using 800,000 people enrolled in DACA as a bargaining chip to force the Democrats to vote for a budget funding his beloved border wall. Senator Schumer says this is “off the table.”

There is no reason to deport these people. They are hardworking, pay income tax and majorly contribute to the US economy. According to CNBC, their deportation could cost the US economy over $400 billion in the next ten years. The cat and mouse game that is occurring in Washington has to stop, the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are on the line.