In 2012, President Barack Obama’s decision to allow undocumented immigrants above the age of 15 years to apply for a two-year renewable work permit, under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, came as a huge relief for around 800,000 young immigrants residing in the country. For many, this order meant they could enroll in educational institutions inside the USA, as well as find work in the country in a completely legal manner.
This is why President Trump’s decision to end the program has resulted in a lot of anxiety among DACA permit holders including the 242,300 permit holders living in California. According to The Migration Policy Institute, only 50% of youngsters eligible for DACA have actually received it, which means the repeal’s impact is likely to be felt far beyond the official numbers.
Following the repeal, those holding DACA permits can continue studying, working, and living in the USA until their permits expire. Only those whose permits expire before 5th March 2018 have the option of applying for renewal, which must be filed before 5th October, 2017. With the DHS not accepting any more DACA applications, all permit holders will have to either find another way to legally stay in the country or leave on their own to avoid deportation.
The impact of the DACA repeal is being acutely felt in educational institutions all over California. Around 72,300 DACA holders are enrolled in Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California. This figure represents just 15% of total permit holders. The remaining 85% are either in high school or, having passed out, are working or searching for employment in the State.
More than 70% of all young Californians eligible under DACA are from Mexico with Guatemala, Korea, and El Salvador comprising the bulk of other undocumented immigrants.
Critics of Trump’s decision have called the repeal inhumane considering the popularity of the program among young undocumented immigrants all over the country. Further, critics opine that the repeal is a flawed decision for economic reasons too. California employers and businesses will, in all likelihood, have to spend more than $1 billion replacing DACA permit holders with other skilled, qualified, trained individuals who are legally permitted to work in the United States.
Yet, this decision has its share of supporters as well. Those seeking effective immigration reform have pointed out that the repeal merely reverses an unwarranted intrusion of Executive power into the authority of the Legislature. With the Executive order repealed, the Congress can streamline immigration and focus on creating a merit-based setup designed to attract global talent legally into the country.
While supporters and critics continue to spar over the decision, the repeal has led to a lot of uncertainty for permit holders studying and working in California. Those permit holders who planned on moving to college or finding a job after graduating now face the prospect of moving back to their native countries despite having lived in America since their childhood.
Following the repeal, DACA permit holders are no longer entitled to study abroad, and Universities all over the country have advising such students to return to the USA immediately.
States like California that oppose the DACA repeal for moral and economic reasons plan to initiate legal action against the Trump decision against the decision. This move has found support among numerous state leaders including politicians and school superintendents.
Community organizations and associates have emphasized that the struggle for immigrants’ rights is an ongoing process and that protests against DACA repeal must aspire to unite undocumented immigrants towards achieving the larger goal of comprehensive and humane immigration reform.