President Trump is holding 800,000 undocumented immigrants hostage.
We are not referring to the 380,000 to more than 400,000 immigrants detained in detention centers across the country nor to the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking to gain asylum in the United States.
We are referring to the nearly one million immigrants currently protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
President Trump is threatening to take the nearly 800,000 immigrants protected under DACA— 800,000 immigrants who are currently documented and now here legally— and revoking what safeguards their rights to live and work here.
We have been counting down to the untimely end of DACA since the Trump administration threatened to repeal the Obama-era program in June, 2017. On Sept. 5, Trump ordered an end to the program and swore to begin phasing out its protections in six months. On March 5, 2018, that six month period ends.
If the DREAM Act passes, it could resolve this issue and allow these residents and contributing members of society to continue residing in the United States. The DREAM Act would provide conditional, permanent resident status for immigrants who have been physically present in the United States for at least four years and who were younger than 18 years of age when they entered the U.S., along with other conditions.
If a replacement such as the DREAM Act or any other is not agreed upon by March 5, DACA will end and roughly 30,000 a month will lose their work permits as their DACA status expires, according to CNBC.
The incentive of the Trump administration is not just to combat immigration by addressing and deporting 800,000 individuals who entered the United States under the age of sixteen and who consider themselves more at home in America than where they were born. The goal is to hold the 800,000 immigrants hostage. The ransom? A crack-down on immigration policy.
Trump said he would be willing to offer a path to citizenship for the Dreamers as well as to the more than one million other young immigrants that did not apply; however, the price for their citizenship is the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of other potential immigrants.
Dreamers will be able to stay and will possibly even gain citizenship as long as Trump is first given what he wants. This bargain would need to include a multi-billion dollar increase for border security and a crackdown on legal immigration.
In exchange for a path to citizenship for Dreamers, the Trump administration is seeking $25 billion for a border wall and an end to family reunification— or chain migration— as well as a termination of the diversity visa lottery, according to NBC.
“Any legislation on DACA must secure the border with a wall, it must give our immigration officers the resources they need to stop illegal immigration and also to stop visa overstays and, crucially, the legislation must end chain migration. It must end the visa lottery,” Trump told reporters. He concluded, “We’d love to take care of DACA, but we’re only going to do it on these conditions.”
The stipulations the current administration is attempting to attach to the Dream Act are unjust.
Trump claims to have “great love” for the Dreamers, but to him, they are not people; they are pawns.