The “Weaknesses” of DACA

Opinions on Debatable Issues #2

DACA, the abbreviation for the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals is stirring lots of political disagreements and intense sentiments. Under the policy, people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action, which is the use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period for two years, subject to renewal, according to USCIS. They are also eligible for work authorization. However, Deferred action does not provide lawful status. To be qualified, individuals must have arrived in the US before their 16th birthday and have lived continually within American territory since 2007. They must also be students, highschool graduates, or military veterans that have passed an exhaustive background check. 

black Dreamer-printed jacket

In 2018, the estimation of the number of active DACA recipients by USCIS and immigration researchers is between six hundred nighty thousand and eight hundred thousand. There are currently 643,430 dreamers in the US according to the US Department of Homeland Security. The number of DACA recipients has decreased a little bit but remains to be a considerable large immigration group. Proponents of DACA reprimand the cruelty of punishing children for the crimes perpetrated by their parents and deporting those who became Americans culturally into a completely strange environment. Those moral aspects must be considered when deciding the fate of the DACA recipients, and they do make DACA a lot harder to discard; however, the legitimacy of DACA and the disadvantages it creates for US citizens are crucial obstacles that hinder the advancement of DACA in helping more illegal immigrants.

First, DACA is not recognized by the constitution. It was created by an executive order issued by President Obama in 2012 without the approval of Congress – although Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution assigns complete authority to Congress to determine our nation’s immigration rules. According to the ruling of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, “providing administrative amnesty and access to government benefits is beyond a president’s constitutional and statutory authority.” Since Congress has not passed any legislation that legitimizes DACA, technically speaking, DACA is unconstitutional; nor is it a program that follows the federal immigration laws because none of the immigration laws allows giving residential privileges to illegal immigrants. 

What is "Constitutional"?

Second, the unfairness incurred to legal immigrants. Even though DACA does not promise legal status and identity, after maintaining Lawful Permanent Residents status for five years, DACA recipients can apply to become U.S. citizens through the normal process. Basically, they enjoyed benefits that only deserved by permanent residents, not illegal immigrants, without putting into money and efforts to apply for a green card as others did. The policy uses the mere reason that they are children when they stepped on the territory of the US to justify their immunity to all consequences of illegal immigration and deserving of a clear pathway towards citizenship. This is unfair to all other immigrants who obtained their residency and citizenship legitimately. 

passport book on floor

Third, DACA does not contribute to the US economy as expected and even can become burdensome. Fifty-five percent of DACA recipients are employed, amounting to 382,000 workers, according to the Migration Policy Institute. They account for 0.25 percent of all U.S. workers only, so they do not make too much of a difference in terms of contributing to the workforce. Furthermore, to help those undocumented students afford college, at least 19 states have passed laws that provide them with the opportunity to receive in-state tuition. However, DACA recipients are far less likely to have completed college compared to their American citizen counterparts with an astonishing ratio of 4 percent versus 18 percent. Also, only 49 percent of DACA beneficiaries have attained a high school education when a majority of them are adults now. WIthout high school education, it is unlikely for them to be in any profession that directly benefits the US. To put it into perspective, the Center for Immigration Studies calculated in 2017 that undocumented immigrants cost the government nearly $750 billion throughout their lifetimes. However, AAF research found that DACA recipients currently contribute only $42 billion to the annual U.S. GDP. It does not look like a favorable investment.

Fourth, DACA has a high potential to encourage more illegal immigration. We have witnessed that The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which legalized about three million undocumented immigrants, incurred an annual growth of 500,000 illegal immigration between 1990 and 2007, during which the population peaked at 12.2 million. It is, thus, highly possible that the continuation and advancement of the DACA program would result in an increased influx of illegal immigration into the US, worsening the burden that the US is already struggling to cope with. Moreover, the continuation of DACA is giving implicit permission to the ratification of DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, and Lawful Permanent Residents. Currently, approximately 3.7 million unauthorized immigrants are qualified for applying to DAFA benefits, according to the Migration Policy Institue. With this massive legalization of illegal immigrants, new political struggles, economic concerns, and social tensions would arouse.

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S. | Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center


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- The "Weaknesses" of DACA
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