ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

American Opinion: Stop toying with DACA recipients’ lives

Summary: DACA recipients need clarity and support, not one more minute holding their breath while they await a court decision that could upend their lives. The way forward was evident to President Obama as he introduced DACA a decade ago.

A woman holds a banner during a protest supporting DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, at Foley Square in New York, on Aug. 17, 2021.
A woman holds a banner during a protest supporting DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, at Foley Square in New York, on Aug. 17, 2021. (Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
Kena Betancur/TNS
We are part of The Trust Project.

On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama stood in the White House Rose Garden and changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants. By his executive order, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protected them from deportation and granted access to educational and work opportunities that have allowed many of them to thrive.

However, DACA was never meant as a permanent solution. It was a stopgap response to legislative inaction on immigration. Ten years later, the program has proved an unquestionable boon to America, yet these young people without legal permission to be in the U.S. remain in legal limbo as Congress’ disgraceful dithering continues.

To allow a decade to pass is shameful; to allow it to go on any longer would be a tragedy.

“On the 10-year anniversary, the whole idea of DACA is kind of bittersweet,” said Merkys Gomez, staff attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “These are individuals who were brought to this country as children, they have grown up here and are part of the fiber of America, whether Congress wants to accept them or not.”

American Opinion
American Opinion
Recent American Opinion editorials.
From American Opinion editorial: Enter the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, a nationwide effort that’s being made to investigate and take legal action against companies who bring foreign robocalls into the United States. The coalition includes attorneys general from all 50 states.
From the American Opinioin editorial: Late in 2021, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally created a process to replace derogatory names of geographic features across the nation. She declared the word “squaw” to be derogatory and ordered a federal panel — called the Board on Geographic Names — to move forward with procedures to remove that word from federal usage.
The truth about the lie fits perfectly with last week’s Jan. 6 hearing, which exposed that Trump’s plan all along was to urge the ginned-up, lied-to mob to train their ire, and their fire, on the U.S. Capitol.

Currently, more than 600,000 people benefit from deferred action nationwide, including 16,270 in Washington and 6,800 in the Greater Seattle area.

ADVERTISEMENT

DACA recipients have made the most out of the opportunity offered by the program. They have gone to college and launched careers, bought homes and started businesses. They pay almost $3.5 billion in taxes and contribute more than $40 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

The price they’ve paid for living the American Dream has been a decade of uncertainty, of being able to step out of the shadows only to live under a cloud. DACA status must be renewed every two years, with a fee paid to the government and no guarantees that a delay in processing or some bureaucratic snafu won’t suspend their work permit and mean a loss of employment.

These young migrants have also been used as bargaining chips in the larger immigration debate and targeted by hard-liners who ignore not only their contribution to their adoptive country but the widespread public recognition of their plight. Polling has consistently shown that about three-quarters of Americans support granting permanent legal status to immigrants who came illegally to the U.S. when they were children — including a majority of Republicans.

That didn’t keep former President Donald Trump, or a group of Republican attorneys general led by Texas, from trying to kill DACA. After a back and forth in the courts, they’ve succeeded in blocking any new applications to the program, leaving tens of thousands of potential recipients on the sidelines and unable to live up to their full potential. The matter will be taken up by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals next month and is likely to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

DACA recipients need clarity and support, not one more minute holding their breath while they await a court decision that could upend their lives. The way forward was evident to President Obama as he introduced DACA a decade ago.

“Let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix,” he said. “Precisely because this is temporary, Congress needs to act.”

It was true then and it is true today. Congress must give these young immigrants a path to permanent legal status.

Anything less is America’s loss.

ADVERTISEMENT

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the Seattle Times Editorial Board.

©2022 The Seattle Times. Visit seattletimes.com . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

More opinion content
Recent opinion content published in the West Central Tribune.
From the commentary: Speaking for myself, here's a recent use of the term I found merited, accurate and admirable. ... Cassidy Hutchinson, testifying in front of a packed hearing room and 13 million television viewers, spoke with uncommon composure as she described seeing the U.S. Capitol "defaced over a lie" and overrun on Jan. 6, 2021. "It was un-American," she said. Yes it was. Good for her for saying so.
From the editorial: Those unfortunate bits of political sausage-making notwithstanding, the measure will mean cleaner air, a more stable climate, lower drug prices for seniors and a more fair tax system for everyone. And Democrats had to shoehorn it through with no help from GOP obstructionists, whose singular priority is to deny any accomplishments to the other side. Even accomplishments that would help Republicans’ own constituents.
An editorial cartoon by Dave Granlund.
From the commentary: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is already taking that risk, but the bigger one may be a miscalculation of the Republican primary electorate and what it may look like in two years. The bad news for DeSantis: It might well look like Kansas. The bad weather could spread for Republicans as their fondest wish — the overruling of Roe v. Wade — turns into an electoral disaster.
From the commentary: And so, in local and national elections in the coming months, to say nothing of the presidential election in 2024, that small slice of the electorate that actually considers both sides before casting their votes will be charged with determining whether a group of men and women who would undermine the foundation on which American democracy is built will be allowed to once again attempt to do so. We can only hope they make the right choice.
From the editorial: But the formation of Forward is a signal that some Americans yearn to restore balance to our badly broken political system. And that is welcome.
An editorial cartoon by Gary Markstein.
From the commentary:
From the commentary: If that’s the case, then we can think of the complex system of multiple points where policy ideas can be initiated or vetoed as a mechanism to force those who choose to advocate for something such as a veterans health bill into having to learn the system, bargain with others with equally legitimate private interests and work out compromises. That is, it’s a system that tries to teach the advantages of a life of public participation.
An editorial cartoon by Bruce Plante

Related Topics: AMERICAN OPINION
What to read next
From the editorial: The problems at the southern border are complex but not unsolvable. They should never have reached this point of near-crisis. What’s most needed now is leadership.
From the editorial: The approaching midterm elections provide a perfect opportunity for the president to stress his need for visionaries in Congress who can help him.
From the editorial: While Republican opposition has blocked the bills enshrining federal rights to abortion and contraception from advancing in the Senate, the GOP appears open to codifying same-sex marriage. It was encouraging to see that the Respect for Marriage Act passed the House with solid bipartisan support. Some 47 Republicans joined all 220 Democrats in voting for it.
From the editorial: People and organizations can respect Audubon's work with birds, but his name shouldn't be the brand for birding in Seattle or in America.