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

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 the editorial: "Thousands of service members and U.S. contractors paid for the administration’s mistakes with their lives. Others will forever bear debilitating physical and emotional scars."
The Justice Department should ask Cannon to recuse herself, and if she refuses, it should appeal for reassignment of the case.
From the editorial: The right to marry whom you love should not be subject to the whims of an out-of-step conservative court or be left to a patchwork of state regulations. Congress must make the Respect for Marriage Act the law of the land.

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


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.


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

©2022 The Seattle Times. Visit . 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: Based on what he has done to date, Ron DeSantis' pledge to do for America what he has done for Florida may not frighten the right wing of the Republican Party, many of them Trumpers, but it may not hold up so well among general election voters, who overwhelmingly support Roe v. Wade and think well of Mickey Mouse. And Trump remains the 600-pound gorilla on the Republican side.
From the commentary: The growing number of entrants is good news for the front-runner, who benefits from facing fragmented opposition as he did in 2016. But it's also good news for Republican voters, who are not only getting more candidates to choose from, but also more ideas about their party's post-Trump future — even though that may not arrive until 2028.
From the editorial: Donald Trump himself remains remarkably unpopular, with a favorability rating about 10 points underwater. This seems unlikely to improve. In the past two months, he has been indicted on 34 felony fraud counts and found liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a civil suit.
Editorial cartoonist Dave Granlund draws reactions to the last day of school.
From the commentary: If we have lost our will as a nation to define what's right and to do it, then we have lost our way in a world that is increasingly being dominated by China, whose president, Xi Jinping, may have correctly diagnosed us as a nation in "decline."
"That coronation ceremony was a bit extravagant for my sensibilities ... There are more than a few folks who have pointed out that Britain could make better use of $125 million."
From the editorial: GOP leaders have vowed not to take up immigration reform until passing a border security law. But all these issues are intertwined. There’s nothing politically compromising about House Republicans using the Dignity Act as a starting point for serious talks on this contention issue, showing voters that they’re willing to substantively address pressing problems even if nobody gets everything they want.
Editorial cartoonist Marshall Ramsey draws on the potential U.S. debt crisis.
City of Willmar staff continues to put up hurdles up for Willmar businesses and appear to give unfair advantage to non-local businesses in its city hall-community center development processes. Is it because of staff bias or poor-decision making?
From the commentary: Casey DeSantis has three young children to raise while her husband runs for president. Anyone and everyone can find something to fault her for in how she chooses to balance her family and the campaign and on her roles as wife, partner and mother, which is why none of us should be sitting in judgment.

What To Read Next
Get Local