by Jason Rivenburg
Nearly a million individuals can be deported in about six months because of the recent repeal of the immigration policy known as DACA. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was implemented in 2012 and has since been a controversial issue, often at the forefront of the longstanding and politically-charged debate over immigration. DACA gave leniency to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, preventing deportation because of the notion that such immigrants had no say in their relocation and now know no other country besides this one.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to repeal DACA and on September 5, 2017, it was officially rescinded. In ending DACA, President Trump cited his concern for Americans affected by it, calling it an “unfair system.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions added that the policy “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.” Despite the supposed, negative economic impact, the repeal of DACA was met with significant backlash, including condemnation from prominent business leaders. In fact, over 400 business executives signed an open letter to the President and Congressional leadership before the repeal, voicing their concern: http://www.businessleadersdacaletter.com.
The widespread support for DACA may have prompted conflicting statements from the President, who used Twitter to call on Congress to legalize
DACA. The President’s previous denouncements of the immigration policy are much different than his current stance, in which he tweets its merits:
On September 13, 2017, President Trump met with Democratic leadership, who then touted a deal to legalize the provisions of DACA, only for the President to tweet the next day that no deal was reached. The constantly conflicting statements by the President prompted many of his most ardent supporters to decry his failure to be steadfast—vocal conservative commentator Ann Coulter responded to the President’s now compassionate stance:
The President has a history of bipartisan appeasement via social media, and Congress has a history of stagnation when it comes to immigration reform—many wonder if something can be done to reconcile current legal challenges to the Democrat-favored DACA with strict immigration policies promoted by many Republicans.
Despite the political quagmire, there seems to be an underlying question that dictates the way forward, and that question was asked of 100 Pitt-Greensburg students: Should illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children be allowed to stay? This a fundamental question that is the catalyst for debate because even in Congress there is now a shared notion of moral responsibility. The 100 respondents on campus overwhelmingly agree with this: 92 students say yes and the common theme expressed by many is that immigrants brought to the U.S. as children deserve protection under the law. One student provides a multi-faceted response that encompasses the very issues to be considered by our leadership: “They are a major contribution to the economy and many sectors would suffer from their deportation. It’s the only home they know and morally unacceptable to remove them.”
Pitt-Greensburg’s perspective is relevant because it is public opinion that will motivate the President and Congress to act in accordance with what most Americans want. However, even if most Americans are eventually content, there are almost a million people that are anxiously waiting for decisions regarding their future.