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What is Daca and who are the Dreamers?

What is Daca and who are the Dreamers?

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With Donald Trump poised to scrap the Obama-era program for children brought to the US illegally, we explain everything you need to know about it


Donald Trump has said he will announce on Tuesday whether he is scrapping a program giving work permits to people who were brought to the US illegally as children. Reports suggest he is planning to scrap Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) but will give Congress up to six months to find a legislative alternative. But what is Daca, who are the people affected (known as Dreamers), and what will happen to them?

What is Daca?

Daca is a federal government program created in 2012 under Barack Obama to allow people brought to the US illegally as children the temporary right to live, study and work legally in America. Those applying are vetted for any criminal history or threat to national security and must be a student or have completed school or military service. If they pass vetting, action to deport them is deferred for two years, with a chance to renew, and they become eligible for basics like a driving license, college enrollment or a work permit.

Who are the Dreamers?

Those protected under Daca are known as Dreamers and 787,580 have been granted approval. To apply they must have been younger than 31 on 15 June 2012, when the program began, and undocumented, lacking legal immigration status. They must have arrived in the US before turning 16 and lived there continuously since June 2007. Most Dreamers are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and the largest numbers live in California, Texas, Florida and New York.

Why are they called Dreamers?

The Daca program was a compromise devised by the Obama administration after Congress failed to pass the so-called Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act, which would have offered those who had arrived illegally as children the chance of permanent legal residency. The bipartisan act was first introduced in 2001 and has repeatedly failed to pass.

A protest against the plan to end Daca in Los Angeles, California . Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images


What does Trump seem to be proposing?

During the divisive election campaign, Trump promised to rip up Daca immediately, and make the deportation of the USs estimated 11 million illegal immigrants a top priority, along with his threats to ban all Muslims from entering the US, and build a wall along the entire border with Mexico. He has not yet successfully executed any of these threats. He is now expected to announce he will end Daca in six months time, giving Congress time to come up with a potential replacement. Because Obama created the Daca programme as an executive policy decision, Trump could simply reverse his policy.

What will happen to the Dreamers?

It is unclear, and great fear is building among those now deemed at risk of detention and deportation. Those who emerged from the shadows of living illegally, where they relied on deception or evasion, or employers, educators, landlords and authorities turning a blind eye, no longer feared deportation under Daca and declared themselves to the government. Technically, if Trump ends Daca, they could be rounded up and sent back to countries of birth many have no familiarity with.

What has Trump said about Dreamers?

On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump said his administration would immediately terminate President Obamas two illegal executive amnesties, by which he meant Daca and another order protecting some parents of children in the US, where the children had legal status but the parents were illegal immigrants. Trump did scrap the second program, which had been blocked in the courts and had never come into effect. Since becoming president, Trump has said that he wanted to work something out for Dreamers. We dont want to hurt those kids, he said. He has remarked that Daca is a very, very difficult subject for me, and said last week in the Oval Office: We love the Dreamers.

Why are Republican state attorneys general suing Trump over Daca?

After watching Trump fail to issue an executive order rescinding Daca after taking office, and publicly dither over the Dreamers, anti-immigration Republican state leaders have decided to force his hand. Many in Trumps hardline conservative base argue that Daca is unconstitutional and Dreamers are illegal and threaten American jobs and culture. Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, sent a letter to US attorney general Jeff Sessions (who opposes Daca) in June, threatening to add Daca to another anti-immigration lawsuit already under way against the federal government unless it cancels the program by 5 September. That letter was also signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Tennessee has since reversed course and now supports Daca and finding a permanent legislative solution for those in immigration legal limbo.

Who supports Daca?

In addition to immigration advocates and most Democratic politicians, a majority of national politicians in the Republican party reportedly do not want Trump to scrap Daca, including such prominent figures as House speaker Paul Ryan and Arizona senator John McCain. A prominent group of evangelical leaders wrote to Trump last month telling him that Dreamers are leading in our churches and our communities.



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