Trump Plays Nativist Politics with TPS and Dreamers’ Lives
ADC Calls on Congress to Defend Dreamers and #SaveTPS
Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | October 24, 2017 | The White House’s “Immigration Policy Priorities,” announced on Oct. 8th, is a poison pill that would destroy any bipartisan deal on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Back in 2012, Pres. Obama signed the executive order on DACA permitting undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children to legally stay and work. 800,000 young applications, often called Dreamers, enrolled in DACA. Applicants have to be in school or employed, pass a background check, and pay a fee for the (heretofore) renewable two-year application.
In September, Republican Attorneys-General from nine states threatened to challenge DACA’s constitutionality. Rather than defend the executive order in court, the Trump administration announced that DACA status would be gradually rescinded starting in six months (March 2018). Every Dreamer, who trusted our government with their personal information, will lose their work permit and/or federal student aid by 2020 unless Congress passes legislation upholding DACA.
Polls show a strong majority of American support legal status for Dreamers; most would agree with Pres. Obama that “Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.” And Pres. Trump initially sympathized with Dreamers and offered them assurances that they need not fear deportation, and even he was dumbfounded as to why anyone would favor deporting them.
A bipartisan deal to ensure the continuation of DACA in exchange for additional security on the U.S.-Mexico border appeared inevitable. That is until the president buckled to pressure from anti-immigration proponents within and outside his administration. (The otherwise sycophant pro-Trump website Breitbart branded the president “Amnesty Don” for his support of Dreamers.) The president has now issued 70 “Immigration Policy Priorities” to be included in any legislative action on DACA; including taxpayer funding for a border wall, cutting legal immigration by half, penalizing so-called sanctuary cities that offer services to undocumented immigrants, and establishing a “merit-based immigration system.” It is not clear if the president is playing cynical politics with Dreamers’ lives by pandering to his nativist base while knowing that his demands have no realistic shot in Congress, or if he’s playing hardball on an emotional issue hoping to browbeat Democrats into accepting his anti-immigration proposals for the sake of preserving DACA.