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    The DREAM Act and DACA: What’s the Difference?

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    One of the most debated topics of recent and upcoming political elections is immigration reform. For example, President Trump built his campaign around the promise of a border wall and stricter immigration policies. When it comes to immigration the American people are divided. The right is concerned with the draining of social services, lost jobs to immigrants, and security of the nation. On the left they are concerned with human rights and the fact that our very nation was built by immigrants. As far apart as each of their views are there is one immigration topic that most Americans agree on; The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals also known as DACA. A recent CBS news poll found that 9 out of 10 Americans surveyed supported DACA (Milligan par 8). It is a program implemented by the Obama Administration that gives a provisional legal status to undocumented aliens that arrived in the United States as a minor. Currently there are over 1.8 million immigrants living in our country that meet the criteria to be eligible for DACA (Milligan par 1). Even with such overwhelming support from the American people the program is in danger of being cancelled. Due to our political leaders’ inability to reach an agreement on immigration reform the Trump Administration has threatened to end DACA. It is essential for the politicians to put aside their political motives and come together to pass a bill that is fair and beneficial to both our nation and immigrants. They must understand the impact DACA has on our country and the economy, as well as the cost associated with ending it. Passing legislation would offer stability to the lives of the recipients and provide the United States with productive members of society.

    Is it right to hold a child responsible for crimes their parents may have committed? Most Americans agree that it is not, however, when it came to immigration children were being deported from the only country they have known simply because they accompanied their parents who entered the country illegally. Some had no recollection of their country of origin and did not speak the language or know the local customs. Americans seeing this as cruel and unusual punishment wanted a solution. Answering the demands from their constituents, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin introduced a bipartisan bill in 2005 called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act also known as the Dream Act (The Development p631). This act provided a conditional residency with a path to permanent residency for immigrant children who entered the United States unlawfully. These children became known as “dreamers” due to the name of the bill. Despite its popularity the Dream Act failed to pass both houses of Congress. Frustrated with Congress’s failure to pass this legislation the Obama Administration implemented a policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Epstein par2). Using the Dream Act as a model, this policy gave legal status to immigrants who entered the United States illegally as minors. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website states a person may apply for DACA if they entered the United States before their 16th birthday and were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 (United States Citizen). Applicants must either be in school, graduated, obtained a general education development certificate, or have been honorably discharged from the U. S. Armed Forces (United States Citizen). Other requirements include having no substantial criminal record and not posing a threat to national security. Once approved the applicant will have legal status for two years then they must apply again (United States Citizen). This helps ensure that the Dreamers remain qualified.

    Political parties are using immigration reform, particularly DACA for their own political advances. It seems reasonable that if two parties agree on a solution to a problem then they should use that solution. This is not the case when it comes to politics and immigration. Research shows that less than twenty percent of American voters and in some polls only 1 out of 10 are opposed to DACA (Milligan par 8). This was pointed out by Senator Bernie Sanders, while addressing the Senate floor on the subject of DACA, ‘You can’t get 80 percent of the American people to agree on what their favorite ice cream is, but we’ve got 80 percent of the American people saying, do not turn our backs on young people who have lived in this country for virtually their entire lives. We have got to act and act soon’ (Milligan par 14). U.S. News and World Report staff writer Susan Milligan states that politicians are intentionally delaying an immigration bill so they can use it to get votes in the upcoming fall elections (Milligan par 8). She claims that the democrats can persuade a lot of democratic activist by putting emphasis on the fact that a DACA deal was not reached while republicans had the majority. She points out that republicans can emphasize that they would have implemented a stricter immigration bill, including the building of a wall along the southern border with Mexico, if they had a larger presence in the Senate allowing them to block a filibuster (Milligan par 7). Basically, she is saying that the political parties are blaming each other for the lack of action in hopes that the voters will side with them.

    Ending the DACA program and deporting the Dreamers would have an extremely adverse impact on our country’s economy. Although estimates vary widely as to the actual dollar amount the impact of deporting Dreamers would have, all the sources from my research agree that the it would be devastating. As Ian Salisbury points out in his article titled “The Insane Economic Cost of Ending DACA”, “research from both the right-leaning Cato Institute and left-leaning Center for American Progress suggests…Their research indicates that ending DACA — and deporting the workers who will no longer enjoy legal status — could reduce the size of the U.S. economy by anywhere from $280 billion to $430 billion over the next decade” (Salisbury par3). Some of the costs are easy to estimate, such as the loss of revenue from income tax, Social Security, and Medicare contributions. There is also the actual deportation cost that includes the detention, legal processing, and logistical cost associated with deporting over 1.8 million people. Other financial impacts are hard to determine, and the total cost may not be known until it’s too late. Jose Magaña-Salgado states “This massive unemployment would lead businesses and employers to incur turnover costs, e.g. costs associated with termination and potential replacement of an employee, of at least $3.4 billion” (Magaña-Salgado 4). These costs include recruiting and training new workers. There will also be a decrease in productivity until the replacement workers reach the level of proficiency that the Dreamers were at.

    Opponents argue that the deportation of Dreamers will open the job market to U.S. Citizens. While this argument seems to make sense, experts say it will have the opposite effect. The U.S. is currently in an economic boom and the national unemployment rate is at 3.9%, a 17-year low (United States Department). Employers in the United States are already facing a shortage of qualified workers. Ben Casselman a reporter for the New York Times writes “With available workers increasingly scarce, companies are going to greater lengths to find potential employees” (Casselman par 21). An article on the website reports that 21% of DACA recipients were employed in the health services and educational industries (Nursing par 10). These job fields are currently experiencing a severe shortage of available workers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States has a shortage of over 327,000 teachers (Topo Par 11). CNN Money reporter Parija Kavilanz writes, “The US will need to hire 2.3 million new health care workers by 2025 in order to adequately take care of its aging population, a new report finds” (Kavilanz par1). It’s common sense that if there is a shortage of workers it’s not a good idea to decrease the amount of available applicants

    The benefits that Dreamers provide to our nation far outweigh the cost to deport them. While a few hardliners may argue that the law has been broken and justice must be served, most Americans agree that they are a valuable irreplaceable part of our American Society. We must not forget the role that immigrants played in the history of this great nation. I believe that if allowed to remain in the United States these Dreamers will have a positive impact on the future of America. Therefore, it is important for our politicians to act now and pass legislation that gives a legal status with a pathway to permanent residency to these valuable members of our society.

    Works Cited

    1. Casselman, Ben. “U.S. Job Growth Eased in March: Unemployment Steady at 4.1%.” The New York Times, 6 Apr. 2018, Accessed on 22 Sept 2018.
    2. Epstein, Richard A. ‘A Clean Deal on DACA: Here’s a creative way to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program: sign it into law.’ Hoover Digest, no. 1, 2018, p. 46+. Opposing Viewpoints In Context, Accessed 24 Sept. 2018.
    3. Kavilanz, Parija. “The US Can’t Keep up with Demand for Health Care Workers.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, Accessed on 22 Sept 2018.
    4. Milligan, Susan. ‘Hanging in the Balance.’ U.S. News – the Report, 16 Feb. 2018, pp. 9-10. EBSCOhost,
    5. login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=128048792&site=ehost-live&scope=site.Accessed on 24 Sept 2018.
    6. “Nursing Organizations Urge Trump To Keep DACA Dreams Alive.”, Accessed on 22 Sept 2018.
    7. Salisbury, Ian. “DACA: Economic Cost of Deporting Undocumented Immigrants | Money.” Time, Time, 7 Sept. 2017, Accessed on 22 Sept 2018.
    8. ‘The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act.’ Harvard Journal on Legislation, vol. 48, no. 2, Summer2011, pp. 623-655. EBSCOhost, Accessed on 24 Sept 2018.
    9. “United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) Frequently Asked Questions.” USCIS, Accessed on 22 Sept 2018

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