Campus voices coalesced at the Student Activities Center on Thursday in opposition to President Donald Trump’s abrupt repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This occurred after President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.’s announcement on Sept. 5 about DACA, in which he expressed “unwavering support” to protect the Dreamers – those who have been raised in the U.S., but not legally documented. Repeal could jeopardize the citizenship of approximately 790,000 beneficiaries and is rooted in nationalistic pretensions. Eligibility requirements for the Obama-era program were sufficiently rigorous in precluding fraud and abuse, both allegations raised by Trump. While this decree is cloaked in security concerns, the push to rescind DACA seems to be, to many protesters, one more step in the anti-immigrant movement rooted in unfounded fear rather than research. Further conjecture by Attorney General Jeff Sessions purports the act as a job-saving measure, despite recent economic data predicting otherwise.
Throughout the five-year lifespan of DACA, the program received 1,541,960 applications and accepted 1,451,195. Outright deportation could cost employers $6.3 billion including recruitment, training and hiring. California alone, which contains the highest population of DREAMers and ranks among the world’s largest economies, will suffer an $11.3 billion loss in annual GDP. This $433 billion pruning of national GDP over the next 10 years would translate to roughly 30,000 job losses per month, in sectors traditionally avoided by native workers. Deportation puts stress on the family with sparse interaction and may exacerbate pre-existing mental trauma.
Contrary to the belief that DACA recipients are involved in criminal activity, they have proven to be industrious, law-abiding citizens. The rescission of the program stigmatizes working immigrants, which can breed a misinformed intolerance. President Stanley echoed this sentiment in his letter to the Stony Brook community, promoting an open marketplace of diverse perspectives. Protesters believed that the effects of criminalizing immigration in the United States criminalizes entire communities. In doing so, America narrows its diversity, which can be deleterious to the notion of our country as a cultural melting pot. This virtue of acceptance was propagated by the protesters who chanted, “No hate, no fear; immigrants are welcome here.” Despite the protesters’ enthusiasm, there are different viewpoints on DACA to consider.
DACA faces opposition from conservative members of Congress, who claim that rule of law takes precedence over emotional appeal. In his USA Today article “Roll Back DACA,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R., Arizona) claims that the Obama-era program is “unconstitutional, and it’s a violation of federal law.” While there is legislation against entering the United States illegally, the legal recourse of being adjusted from temporary to permanent resident is unrealistic. The fee for filing an I-698, which allows immigrants to become permanent residents of the U.S., rose as of Dec. 23, 2016 from $1,020 to $1,670 and the fee for re-applying for admission into the United States after deportation rose from $585 to $930. The petition for a green card must be sent to a consulate outside of the United States, leading to processing time that can take upwards of six months. After that, immigrants must “have continuous residence” in the United States as green card holders for five years prior to filing and are forced to pay a $640 fee for naturalization. These out-of-pocket expenses galvanized students to march.
The proposed overturn of DACA has opened the door to more discussion about the balance between morality and legality, and the protest indicates a step closer to universal vocality.