“Good morning. I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama Administration is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
It was anything but a good morning. In an instant, just under 800,000 people — roughly 563 of which live in South Dakota — feared for their legal status within the United States.
Through an executive order in 2012, former President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).The program allowed for those who arrived illegally to the United States as children to attend school and hold jobs within the U.S. without fear of deportation.
All over the country there were vigils held in support of those in danger of losing their livelihoods due to President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA.
At least 200 supporters gathered in Meldrum Park in northeast Sioux Falls on the evening of Sept. 5 to show their solidarity with dreamers and to voice their stance to their elected officials.
Several people spoke out at the event, including an 18-year-old DACA recipient, an immigration lawyer and nuns from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic church in Sioux Falls.
“They’re continuing their education in our schools, working in our local hospitals, our banks and other businesses,” said a sister from Our Lady of Guadalupe church.
“Some of them are married now and raising children of their own. Across our country there are teachers, and engineers, lawyers, and nurses…because of DACA. They are American in every way except on paper.”
There are many common misconceptions of what the DACA program provides for its recipients which are easily debunked.
First, DACA is not a pathway to citizenship. DACA recipients must maintain a clean record with the law and reapply every two years to keep their legal status within the U.S. DACA grants a work permit, the ability to obtain a driver’s licence and the opportunity to achieve a college degree.
During the announcement for the start of DACA in 2012, Former President Barack Obama stated, “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix.”
Another misconception about DACA is that the recipients are able to participate fully within our society without paying taxes. This simply is not true.
The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that those in the DACA program have paid almost $2 billion in taxes since 2012.
Additionally, DACA recipients do not qualify for medicaid or for insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. If a Dreamer does have health insurance, it was not provided by the government.
DACA recipients obtain health insurance in three ways: it can be provided by a spouse to which they are listed as a dependent, through employment or by paying full premium prices directly from the insurer.
Finally, and most pertinent to Augustana, Dreamers do not go to college for free. DACA gives people the ability to go to school, but the cost is far from free. The program allows for students to attend college at in-state tuition, but they are ineligible to apply for federal aid.
Any financial aid students recieve is given by the college they attend and not the government. Often, schools have them listed as international students which puts their tuition at a much higher cost than in-state.
Congress has six months to decide whether to keep or scrap DACA. Hopefully, congress will see the people affected by the loss of DACA as irreplaceable assets to the United States.