Build the wall to save the Dreamers: Trump’s heartless ultimatum

Lauren Steele

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The fate of nearly one million hardworking American residents rests in the hands of President Donald Trump, our incompetent and indecisive leader. The first of these “Dreamers” will lose their DACA status beginning Mar. 5, 2018, unless Trump decides to save the program. Trump’s position has flip-flopped, lacked clarity and otherwise created uncertainty regarding DACA. It’s his duty as President to save hundreds of thousands of people whose entire lives and futures in the United States are at stake.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a 2012 legislation passed under President Obama that gives amnesty to over 700,000 otherwise illegal immigrants that arrived in the U.S. as children by granting them two-year renewable work permits. The people protected by this legislation are called Dreamers, and they are permitted to stay in the states as long as they continue to renew their application, or until the program is terminated.

DACA

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Trump’s position on DACA has changed numerous times since the campaign trail. Initially, he vowed to get rid of the program, but once in office, he seemed to have a change of heart. Even after his administration decided to terminate the program, Trump tweeted his sympathy for the Dreamers on Sept. 14, 2017.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”

Dreamer Tolu Aleshinloye, a college graduate born in Nigeria, didn’t know she was in the country illegally until she learned as an adult that she was brought to the U.S. when she was only three years old. After learning of her status in the states, she applied to DACA.

But now, Aleshinloye’s DACA status is set to expire on March 22, about two weeks after the cutoff date for renewal. Trump has the power to save the lives of many immigrants with similar stories. However, if his stance on DACA continues to flip-flop, and his administration maintains their unreasonable demands to form a bipartisan “compromise,” many other hardworking people like Aleshinloye will lose their DACA status in a matter of months.

Many of DACA’s recipients were brought here as young kids, like Aleshinloye, and the United States is the only home they’ve ever known. The Dreamers have built lives here with families, stable jobs and people they care about; they shouldn’t have to return to countries they don’t even remember.

Trump’s mixed messages about DACA have placed the future of many people in jeopardy. The fate of the Dreamers is at the center of a heated debate in Congress, and Trump’s inability to make up his mind is about to uproot more than 700,000 valuable lives. To save the Dreamers, Trump needs to decide once and for all to reinstate DACA.

In addition to this ambiguity, the Trump administration has spewed a stream of false information surrounding DACA.

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One reason Trump pledged to end DACA was because he claimed the Dreamers cost taxpayers too much money. However, this reasoning is flawed. According to “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration, a book written by the National Academy of Sciences, first-generation immigrants who entered the United States as children (including all DACA recipients) pay more in taxes over their lifetimes than they receive in benefits, regardless of their education level. DACA recipients also contribute more than the average American because they are ineligible for any federal welfare, including cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid or health-care tax credits.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions claimed ending DACA saves lives. He believes Dreamers commit crime and are dangerous to communities. In a statement on Sept. 5, Sessions said DACA “put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.” But these Dreamers are not criminals. To participate in DACA, applicants are required to pass a background check. If they are arrested, DACA can be taken away even without a conviction. Only 2,139 DACA recipients (about 0.25 percent) have lost their permits because of criminal or public safety concerns as of the end of 2016.

It’s unfair to punish all of the Dreamers for the actions of only a few. According to Prison Policy Initiative, only 1 in 40 DACA recipients have been to jail since living in the U.S. On the other hand, 1 in 11 U.S. citizens have been to jail while living in the U.S. DACA recipients have committed far fewer crimes per capita than the population of U.S.-born Americans, so it’s completely untrue and unfair to blame Dreamers for causing crime in the states.

The White House recently proposed a deal that plans to grant citizenship to about 1.8 million people, even more people than DACA currently protects. However, this plan comes with some severe restrictions, including the removal of family-sponsored visas and an end to the diversity visa lottery.

Trump is making unreasonable demands to Congress. His new plan states the only way he will agree to a compromise to DACA is if he is granted $25 billion to build his border wall, which he originally promised that Mexico would fund, and the Democrats have told Trump granting him such an exorbitant amount of money is out of the question.

On Jan. 23, 2018, Trump tweeted, “…if there is no Wall, there is no DACA.”

Originally, Trump’s indecisiveness was the problem, but now it’s giving Congress an ultimatum: build his wall, or forget about the Dreamers. Many members of Congress have vocalized their refusal of Trump’s ultimatum, and yet Trump still refuses to alter his demands.

Trump needs to open his heart to the one million young immigrants who, through no fault of their own, grew up as Americans, just as you or me.