Matthew Riley is a sophomore journalism major at MU. He is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.
2012’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is an executive order from former President Barack Obama which allows immigrants under the age of 31 who were brought to the United States illegally while younger than 16 and who’ve lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 to remain, work and study in the United States legally. Recipients of its protections are known as DREAMers, after the failed 2001 DREAM Act, legislation which would have given a path to permanent residency for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. On March 5, 2018, DACA will come to an end, unless Congress does something about it, as President Donald Trump has asked them to do.
Trump’s decision to terminate DACA was largely seen as him following through with a campaign promise, but it might have helped, rather than hurt DACA. Ten Republican state attorneys general may have forced Trump’s hand in ending DACA by threatening to sue over its constitutionality if Trump did not promise to end it by Sept. 5. By doing so, Trump stopped this lawsuit from happening, one which may well have put an end to DACA and set a legal precedent against it.
A 2016 Supreme Court case saw the court deadlocked 4-4 on a similar issue, effectively blocking Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents executive order, which would have shielded some 5 million immigrants from deportation. Now, with Republican-leaning Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench, it seems likely DACA would have met its end in a 5-4 decision were it to reach the Supreme Court. By making a statement about its end on Sept. 5, Trump gave Congress six months to find a definitively legal way to protect DREAMers.
Supreme Court case or not, DACA’s constitutionality is debatable. As an executive order, it is not technically a law and was not approved by Congress. Experts disagree over its legality, but even if it is unconstitutional, do its benefits not outweigh its legality? Slavery was undeniably an atrocious institution, one which was done away with in the South by President Abraham Lincoln's magnum opus, the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order which was possibly unconstitutional. Sometimes the laws of the nation are behind the times relative to its morals and opinions. 58 percent of Americans oppose the deportation of DREAMers, according to Politico, which an end to DACA would likely bring. For at least the next six months, Trump has assured their safety.
Even still, this decision has brought fear and anxiety to hundreds of thousands of people as they’re forced to wonder, “Will I still be allowed to live in the nation I call home this time next year?” I say, let anyone who is here stay, and streamline the immigration process for those wishing to enter this great nation.
As of now, it takes many months or even years to legally immigrate to the United States, and those are months and years that people living in fear in their current homes aren’t willing to risk, months and years that people living on next to nothing and wanting a better life shouldn’t have to wait. This country is made better by immigrants and diversity. As the fate of some 800,000 DREAMers rests in Congress’ often inept hands, we should make sure they feel safe and welcome in this nation and do what we can to protect their legal status. Let them stay, let more come and let us stand together not as citizens of nations but as citizens of the world.