Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Dreamers’ Nightmare: Trump Rescinds DACA

President Donald J. Trump has rescinded the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was issued by an executive order by former President Obama in 2012. DACA deals with roughly 800,000 illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children by their parents allowing them to live and work legally. The measure is a temporary one designed to give this population status until Congress passes a legislative solution for their peculiar situation.

The “Dreamers,” as they are known, are people who have grown up to become contributing members of society. They are students, workers, and entrepreneurs. The U.S. economy will be adversely affected if by the end of six months, which is the timeframe set to phase out DACA, would be deported.

Zuckerberg of Facebook, Bezos of Amazon, Cook of Apple, Robbins of Cisco, Nadella of Microsoft, Kelly of Visa are among the 400 business leaders who cautioned against ending DACA and called for protecting the Dreamers. “Our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions” they have reminded.

Immigration reform is a political Football that has been punted time and again for the last few decades. Currently, there are around 12 million undocumented residents who live and work in the U.S. This vital population is needed to do the jobs Americans aren't willing to do. The simple equation is that if there was no need for them, there would not be any economic incentive for them to risk their lives by making the treacherous journey crossing the southern border.

Blame Game

Arguments suggesting that this population is causing undue economic burden are unfounded. Not to turn this into an economic discussion, but the current %4.4 is as low as any economist would hope for. Actually, the Federal Reserve can tolerate a rate as low as %4.8 without increasing the interest rate to avoid unsustainable inflation rates. Some of those 12 million undocumented immigrants find businesses that are willing to operate within that %4.4 dead-zone. Within that margin unskilled workers find employment.

The economic argument can get complicated really quick with inflation consideration and shifting demand for highly skilled workers. The undocumented population is blamed as some Americans find themselves unemployed. It's not because of the undocumented as much as they need to acquire new skills employers are seeking in their workers. Because of these factors and a multitude others, we find that unemployment is more complex to be put squarely on illegal immigrants. In fact, latest figures put their contribution at $11 billion a year toward the U.S. economy.

If the economic impact is not the catalyst for Trump’s decision then it must be that such a decision will advance the Republican party's agenda helping them solidify the gains they won in last November’s election. The Republican party currently controls the White House, the House and Senate. One would think that phasing out DACA will help those Republicans fighting tight races in the upcoming midterm elections of 2018; no, that's not it.

A dozen House Legislators who represent districts with a high concentration of Hispanic populations are opposing Trump on his DACA termination decision. Six of those 12, wrote a letter asking him to leave DACA in place. The Dreamers act (DACA) is a temporary fix for an unacceptable situation that inflicted suffering upon children of illegal immigrants. Congress is now under pressure to push the issue up their already packed legislative agenda. By any measure, passing any meaningful immigration reform will require more than 6 months. It was during the Reagan presidency in 1986 when the last meaningful immigration policy was passed, although it did not address the root causes of the illegal immigration. And now, at this juncture, immigration reform has become a pressing issue for Congress to address; let the legislative wrangling begin!

Some Republican Representatives took it upon themselves to expedite the legislative process. Republican Representative (Rep) Curbelo has filed an amendment to the anticipated spending bill to keep DACA intact. And Rep. Coffman (Republican - Colorado) is attempting to force a vote on his bill extending DACA work permits by soliciting the support of the 194 House Democrats and a few more Republicans. He is using a procedural process that is usually used by the minority to force the majority to bring bills to the floor for a vote. The “discharge petition” procedure he’s using needs a total of 218 signatures to force a vote. A very daring track to take. Numerous other procedural options are being considered to keep DACA in place for the time being. This is not to speak of the Democratic party that is looking into their options to help the Dreams.

Some 20 State Attorney Generals sent President Trump urging him to keep DACA in place. Attorney Generals have the option to resort to legal actions asking the courts to intervene. Although the courts have shot down another executive order expanded DACA called the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which was yet another Obama issued an executive order in 2014. DAPA protects undocumented parents from deportation for the purpose of holding the integrity of the Dreamers’ family unit. Not a very encouraging outcome for the Dreamers.

Perhaps peaceful protests will prove to be effective. Dreamers and supporters of America’s values and history have already mobilized protesting Trump’s decision. A simple question here: what would the economic and social impact be if these 800,000 or so dreamers organized to stay at home for a week? I venture to say the nation will feel the void they typical fill.

This is a country of immigrants. This is a country that is built on trust. This is a country that always finds a way to do what is right. These Dreamers have trusted the promises given by the American government. They registered when asked. They shared their personal information as required. Because of that, they are now more vulnerable to deportation once their status runs out than other undocumented immigrants. No doubt about it, there is a pressing need for immigration reform. We need to be mindful that illegal immigrants, legal newcomers, and citizens all share the ethos of living the American dream. As a country, we must honor the promises we made to them. After All, this is not a legal question - it's a moral one.

original article published, 10 Sep 2017, on 

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