Trump ends Obama-era DACA program while Franklin & Marshall community reacts

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine.

By Audrey Lee || Contributing Writer

The Justice Department, alongside President Donald Trump, announced Tuesday, September 5th that the administration would be ending the Obama-era immigration policy, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). In a statement made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the administration urged Congress to save the policy with a replacement in a six-month time frame.

DACA, instated by the Obama administration in 2012, provides two-year deferment from deportation and a work permit for those who were brought into the United States illegally as children. In order to be eligible for DACA one must be being under the age of 31, have arrived in the United States by the age of 16, have had uninterrupted residence in the United States since June 15th, 2007, have been physically present in the United States on June 15th, 2012, be enrolled in or have graduated from an educational institution, and to not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or  three or more misdemeanors. 97% of those with DACA status currently are working or studying full time.

Currently, there are 1.9 million potential participants in the DACA Program. Because of the Trump administration’s ending of the program, 800,000 of these participants have now become eligible for deportation. Current DACA participants with a permit expiring before March 5, 2018, are eligible to renew their two-year permit before October 5th, 2017. The Department of Homeland Security will recognize permits until the last permits expire, according to plan, on March 5th, 2020.

Trump has called the ending of the program an “amnesty-first approach.” Sessions, in his statement, labeled DACA as unconstitutional. Sessions said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

Former President Barack Obama wrote in a statement to his Facebook on Tuesday that “[u]ltimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.” Protests against the ending of DACA have taken place across the country, and the University of California sued the Trump administration on Friday, September 8th, under the leadership of University President Janet Napolitano. Napolitano was on the committee that aided the Obama administration in developing the program in 2012 when she served as the secretary of U.S. Homeland Security.

The Franklin & Marshall community has reacted to the end of the DACA program as well. In a statement made to the Franklin & Marshall community via email and Facebook on Tuesday, President Daniel Porterfield said, “While many practical details remain to be announced by the federal government, it is clear that this decision personally affects some of our students and, in diverse ways, many throughout our campus community.” He continued by saying that Franklin & Marshall “…has worked to hear and respond comprehensively to the individual needs of our students. We will continue to take all necessary steps so that our students can pursue their educational goals here at F&M, including vigorously protecting the privacy of all our students to the extent that the law allows. For example, we will not voluntarily disclose information about any student’s immigration status, and law enforcement agents cannot come onto campus to interview an F&M student without a valid warrant.”

In an email on Friday, September 8th, the F&M Diplomatic Congress emailed a statement to the community: “The Diplomatic Congress fully supports those in the F&M community who have benefited from DACA; DACA has enabled F&M to recruit many of the talented students we have, and remain committed to the school’s mission to attract students with diverse talents and backgrounds. Despite how disheartening this decision may be, we hope that members of the Franklin & Marshall community will remain strong and unite in support of one another.”

First-year Audrey Lee is a contributing writer. Her email is alee3@fandm.edu.

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