When the Trump administration announced its crackdown on immigration the motivation behind it was twofold, to reduce the number of immigrants who commit crimes and reduce the financial burden of the US in supporting immigrants not here legally.
However, the crackdown is not so discriminate. This week a 39 year-old tax-paying citizen, with no criminal record, was deported back to Mexico, where he has not lived since the age of 9. He is being separated from his wife and 2 children, legal citizens, and asked to return to a country he has no real familiarity with. Additionally, his family has to support themselves on their own now and he is forced to find new work in a new land.
Jorge Garcia is too old to qualify for DACA despite having immigrated as a child, and the stays he was given during the last administration are not being extended for him. Contrary to popular belief, marrying a legal citizen does not necessarily confer legal status to the other partner.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) was a temporary executive order signed by President Obama to protect immigrant children brought to US illegally through no fault of their own. It was a result of the failed DREAM act, which stood for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, originally sponsored by Orrin Hatch and Maria Cantwell along with 6 other co-sponsors in 2001. This is why children protected under DACA are still referred to as DREAMers. The DREAM act failed due to Republican filibuster, but was revived in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. This act would have provided a path to legal citizenship for adults and children, strengthened border patrol and updated visa requirements for immigrants. However, this act too failed. In 2010 DREAM was proposed again, and failed again, and the executive order for DACA was signed.
While campaigning, Trump stated DREAMers had nothing to worry about. However, upon entering office in January he ended the privacy protection of DACA thereby exposing immigrants to ICE. And by September of 2017 the President rescinded DACA. Since then, the courts have issued an injunction to stop DACA from being phased out. In turn, the Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court to make a ruling on the injunction and the administration’s desire to rescind DACA. Congress has until March 5, 2018 to develop an immigration plan approved by the president. In the meantime, immigrants under DACA risk deportation and will continue to face this risk if the administration wins their legal battle to end DACA.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has expanded its repertoire of tactics by staking out courthouses and other places of business where immigrants are suspected to be or work. They recently raided a number of convenience stores suspected of employing immigrants. These increasingly aggressive approaches are frightening to immigrants and have provoked many to anger and frustration.
While the administration continues to cite crime and costs as its primary motivation for the deportation efforts, the evidence to support these claims is inconclusive and other evidence indicates the US stands to lose a great deal of tax revenue and available work force with such actions. As we have discussed before cities that welcome immigrants tend to be safer overall and immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take away. The cost of deportation is substantial as well. Furthermore, when non-criminal, tax-paying immigrants are deported, it becomes unclear if the stated motivation is guiding the deportation actions appropriately.
As the status of DACA is battled in court and immigrants continue to face these obstacles, the only clear thing is that this struggle is putting some hard working families in the crossfire.
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