At the beginning of January, it became clear what it will take for Donald Trump to allow DACA immigrants (“Dreamers”) to remain in the country. These are about 780,000 people brought to this country illegally, as children. Now adults, they have known no other country as their own and often understand no other language but English. They have jobs or are going to college, they have families, homes—in short, a life, here in the US. In 2012, President Obama made an executive decision allowing them to remain in this country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, but Trump rescinded the program in September 2017, effective in March 2018.
In September 2017, the current presidential administration stopped accepting new applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA is an administrative program that provides temporary protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States, enabling them to attend university, get jobs, apply for driver’s licenses, etc. Nearly 800,000 people received this DACA protection. The administration has signaled that they may be open to a legislative fix reinstating these or similar protections for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children, and negotiations over the future of DACA have been ongoing. (For a helpful explainer on the recent political history of DACA, read this article.)
In the face of President Donald Trump’s threats for an immigration overhaul, as well as increased U.S. immigration enforcement across the country, undocumented individuals will undoubtedly face greater threats of deportation, raids, and discrimination in the coming months. Despite the fact that, yes, the Obama administration set a record high for deportation of immigrants and therefore a precedent for future Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity, President Trump’s usage of executive orders has particularly targeted legislation designed to protect immigrants.