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Dreamers Get A Temporary Reprieve

By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News
In a split 5-4 decision last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Trump Administration’s attempt to undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection for America’s Dreamers.

For many, this is the only country they’ve known. Dreamers had to have arrived in the U.S. by 2007 and before they turned 16 years old. Nearly 40 percent arrived in America before they were 5 with the average age of children who eventually became Dreamers just 7.

DACA was created by a 2012 executive order issued by then President Barack Obama to protect Dreamers from potential deportation as the U.S. Congress repeatedly failed to pass an immigration law. Claiming the order illegal, then presidential candidate Donald Trump said that he would overturn it on “day one” if elected president. He has been working toward that goal since his election in November 2016.

In directing the Department of Homeland Security to terminate DACA, however, Trump’s effort ended up before the courts. Lower courts that heard the case ruled against DHS undoing the Obama executive order. Those courts ruled that DACA could not simply be eliminated because of a claim that it was illegal. Rather, they said there was an obligation on the government’s part to live up to its promise to protect them when they agreed voluntarily to provide information on themselves to gain Dreamer status. The case then went to the Supreme Court.

It is estimated there are more than 700,000 Dreamers in America with 5,000 living in Minnesota. Those numbers do not include their children.

Writing for the majority last week, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that the Trump Administration and DHS had not taken into account the impact of their proposed action on the potential to deport Dreamers or their ability to legally work in America.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” Roberts wrote. “We address only whether the [Department of Homeland Security] complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action. Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner.”

“The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA,” Roberts wrote for the court. “The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.”

In an editorial in the conservative Washington Examiner, the Court’s decision is harshly criticized. “Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday threw up yet another obstacle to President Trump’s repeal of an Obama-era executive action. Roberts and the liberal justices found a cheap technical loophole that places the policy on hold.”

It goes on to quote conservative Justice Clarence Thomas who it says, “nailed it in his dissent when he characterized this ruling as a legal evasion.” Thomas wrote “Today’s decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision.”

The Examiner recognizes that there is broad support for Dreamers in America. “Conservatives don’t want them deported, and neither do liberals. Trump voters don’t want them deported. Trump himself says he doesn’t want them deported. In fact, political danger would befall anyone who proved unwilling to play ball in a legislative compromise on DACA recipients’ fate.”

However, not everyone is so sure that Dreamers are protected based on Trump’s past immigration stands. Whether conservative, or liberal, everyone agrees that Congress must act to resolve the Dreamer issue – and the sooner the better.

An estimated 27,000 to 29,000 Dreamers work in America’s healthcare sector as aides in our nursing homes and assist-living facilities, as doctors and nurses in our hospitals, and as EMTs or lab technicians. They are on the frontlines of the battle against the coronavirus, risking their lives to help save the lives of our loved ones. We could be the next patient who is cared for by a Dreamer.

Dreamers attended our elementary schools and high schools. Many went on to, or are still in, our colleges. They serve in the U.S, military. They are engineers, electricians, teachers, farm workers and fill many other jobs in our economy. They are neighbors and friends. Their children are in our schools. Dreamers pay income and social security taxes just like we do.

Here are a few other facts about Dreamers:

- They are two to three times less likely to be jailed for a crime than American-born citizens.

- They excel in school.

- More than 80 percent of illegal immigrants say they are Christians while only 70 percent of Americans do.

- An immigrant is twice as likely to start a business as someone born in the U.S.

- The claim that they steal American jobs and lower wages have been found to be untrue. Further, they fill many jobs Americans aren’t willing to do.

- Studies have shown that Dreamers created billions of dollars in economic vitality for America and their loss would be devastating.

Nearly 90 percent of DACA recipients were employed prior to the coronavirus devastating the economy. Because their children were born in the United States, they are automatically citizens.

Dreamers live a constantly uncertain future where they could suddenly find themselves being rounded up and deported. DACA provides temporary status to Dreamers that allows them to work, go to school, and live in America. They have to renew that status every two years, which means they give the government their addresses. 

For Dreamers to have a direct path to U.S. citizenship will take an act of Congress. That act will have to be signed into law by the president. Giving them citizenship is the right thing to do, and the sooner the better.

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