President Trump’s announcement to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a cruel development for Dreamers and a damaging decision for all of us in Iowa and across America.
Demonstrators in Des Moines (right) protested the decision as soon as it was announced this morning.
In Iowa, there are just under 3,000 young people in the DACA program. About 2,500 of those work in Iowa, so our state—which already has difficulty filling some positions—will lose thousands of these eager, skilled, able young workers who grew up in Iowa and call it home. In fact, reports estimate it will cost Iowa more than $188 million annually in lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) if it removes DACA workers.*
Five years ago, the federal government made a deal with undocumented immigrant youth who had arrived here as kids and grown up as Americans: as long as you pass a criminal background check you can live, study, and work here. Hundreds of thousands of young people came out of the shadows and accepted the government’s offer in good faith and worked hard to build their lives here.
DACA has allowed these Dreamers to gain diplomas, earn a paycheck, start businesses, purchase homes, and fully contribute to this nation they call home. DACA also has provided daily peace of mind that they wouldn’t be deported back to a country they barely remember for an infraction as small as driving with a broken taillight.
“There is no humane way to end DACA before having a permanent legislative fix in place. President Trump just threw the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families into crisis and disarray. “DACAmented” workers risk losing their work permits in small businesses and Fortune 50 companies alike. Also, the U.S. government has repeatedly — and successfully — defended the legal validity of DACA, so today’s news also amounts to a complete reversal of the United States’ own consistent legal positions.
While today is a sad day for Dreamers, their courage, industry, and organizing won the DACA program in 2012. Nothing will deter them—or us—from continuing to fight for their families and their futures. This means that we all need to call on Congress to pass the clean, standalone, and bipartisan Dream Act that addresses Dreamers’ renewed vulnerability to deportation and provides a permanent path to citizenship for these aspiring Americans.
President Trump’s announcement today underscores the urgency to pass clean, standalone, and bipartisan legislation addressing Dreamers’ renewed vulnerability to deportation. There is enough support to pass a clean and bipartisan Dream Act in the House and Senate. Iowa’s members of Congress must decide if they are on the side of Dreamers or on the side of the ugly forces that helped to end DACA.
In this moment of truth, the ACLU of Iowa stands with Dreamers in Iowa and across America.