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Whither the Dreamers?

The Trump Administration made it official Tuesday: It will end an Obama-era program that has granted relief from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement that the administration will phase out the initiative — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program — over six months, as reported in the Texas Tribune, by Julian Aguilar

A significant proportion of Texas community college students are concerned about their legal status in the United States. (Those on the Gulf Coast obviously have enormous concerns already. This situation will be an ongoing topic here.) Undocumented students could face deportation, according to some reports. Much may depend upon a response from Congress regarding the ultimate fate of the program.

Five years ago, President Obama signed an executive order protecting these individuals from deportation. It’s known as DACA—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Immigrant rights organizations—and immigrants themselves—worry that “opponents and President Trump’s administration are quietly working to revoke protection for DACA participants,” as reported in a segment on NPR.

DACA offers protection for people who came to the country illegally as children, and are pursuing an education or served in the military, and have a clean criminal record. 

What will happen to the so-called “Dreamers” enrolled in colleges and universities across the country?

In examining various media accounts, some authorities say mass deportation is unlikely, but students may not be allowed to stay in school or get jobs. One of the most comprehensive analyses is by Eric Columbus, in Politico. The author is a lawyer and former official with the U.S. government.

As for the situation economically and closer to home, from a piece in the Dallas Morning News by, Dianne Solis and Caroline Kelly (online edition presently unavailable):

Some [business leaders] were quick to press the economic argument for DACA as it appeared Trump might end the program. Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted on Sunday that he stands by the 250 Apple employees who benefit from DACA.

Over the weekend, Dallas-based A T&T joined Apple and several other members of FWD. us, a tech and science lobbying firm, in signing a letter pressing Trump to maintain DACA and both par- ties in Congress to protect the program through legislation as soon as possible.

More than 124,000 immigrants in Texas have benefited from the DACA program, and about 216,000 were eligible for its protections. Removing the 104,000 recipients who are workers would cost Texas over $6.1 billion, and 80 percent of employed DACA recipients cite their bilingualism as beneficial to their employers, according to reports by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, by Katherine Mangan:

Without DACA status, Dreamers are expected to lose — and be unable to renew — their work authorization. It is unclear whether the two-year, renewable permits would be allowed to expire or would end immediately after six months. But losing them could force many undocumented college students, who don’t have access to federal loans and have been piecing together part-time jobs, to drop out.

No one covered by DACA will be affected before March 5, 2018, according to a news release from the Department of Homeland Security’s acting secretary, Elaine Duke, who added, “I want to be clear that no new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.”

 

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