Less than nine months into his term, U.S. President Donald Trump has returned to two of his favorite activities: waging war against immigrants and undoing the policies established by former President Barack Obama. In early September, not long after he returned from touring parts of the country devastated by Hurricane Harvey, Trump announced his intention to rescind the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gives some level of immigration amnesty to nearly 800,000 young people who were illegally introduced to the U.S. by their parents.
Immigrants who benefit from the DACA program are called “dreamers;” these individuals were children whose parents either carried them across the border or prompted them to overstay their visas; in other words, they did not become undocumented immigrants of their own volition. Under DACA, these young adults are given identity documents, the right to work, some educational opportunities, and protection from overzealous immigration enforcement and prosecution. DACA has been in effect since 2012; Trump wants to see it disappear within six months.
On September 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions acted as Trump’s ‘henchman’ to make the official announcement about DACA being rescinded immediately. Even though Sessions and Trump do not see eye to eye on some issues, they are on the same page with regards to immigration. These are men who believe Mexico will pay billions of dollars to build a wall along the U.S. southern border. Reaction against the DACA decision has been strong: protestors amassed in front of the White House hours after the announcement, and they are coordinating long-term activism against the Trump administration. Accusations of bigotry, which were voiced very loudly in the aftermath of the neo-Nazi incident in Charlottesville, are being launched again.
Political analysts have taken Trump to task for recent statements made to the press; on one hand, he professed his “great love” for dreamers, but on the other hand he claims to be looking out for the interests of “hardworking citizens” concerned about their economic future. Unfortunately for these citizens Trump speaks about, the impact of 800,000 DACA recipients exiting the U.S. over 12 months would translate into a $460 billion hit to the gross domestic product over 24 months. There is some hope for DACA immigrants in the sense that the U.S. Congress may either push for immigration reform or band together against Trump on this measure over the next six months, which some analysts believe may happen if the President falls on his sword due to the ongoing investigations about the controversies surrounding his rise to power.