By Pierre Gugenheim
On 5th September, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the suppression of the ‘Dreamers’ status. As Donald Trump denounced the system that benefits 800,000 youngsters throughout his presidential campaign, such a decision was awaited. It is another step in removing cornerstones of the Obama era. This followed the repeated attempts to repeal ‘Obamacare’ legislative package and US withdrawal from COP21’s historical environmental agreement.
The ‘Dreamers’ dismay
The 800,000 dreamers that American territories can count on are the children of undocumented migrants, all between 21 and 31 years old. Their status is consequent to former President Obama’s 2012 DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to address a legislatively unsolved situation. The decree was assumed from its very title to be temporary and strictly focused on the fragile population of juvenile migrants. Its conditions are very restrictive as those children of illegal migrants had to be more than 15 years old, to have lived continuously in the US since 2007, and to have no criminal record.
Jeff Sessions’s declaration was a clap of thunder for those thousands of young people. They now face a Cornelian dilemma between leaving the US right away and settle in their ‘lawful country’ or waiting for the Congressional settlement. Among the wave of witnesses on social media, Mark Zuckerberg’s interview of three dreamers draws attention. Facebook co-founder and CEO broadcasted on the misconceptions surrounding the status and its beneficiaries with those three foremost members of pro-immigration advocacy groups. Maria Praeli, Leezia Dhalla and Tomas Evangelista especially highlighted the reasons for their family to have originally migrated. These were often characterized by economic lack of opportunity, insecurity or family reunification. They also talked about the reasons behind their legal situation in the US, where administrative incompetencies and familial tragedy play an important part. Grasping insights on their attachment to the US reflects what an injustice their classification as ‘aliens’ and their deportation might represent.
An isolated administration
The day after his attorney general’s speech, Trump initiated a destabilising communication by sending contradictory signals through his declarations. This blurry positioning provoked the wrath of radical Republicans. Such ever-present management, budget exceeding and slowdowns in the process of Obamacare’s deconstruction were followed by open criticism from prominent figures such as the writer Ann Coulter, an anti-immigration polemicist. Hints of division on the issue among the Republicans were explicitly given by Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain. Their recent statements imply for them to not be in perfect agreement with the leadership , “if not an outright opponent” figure, according to The Guardian.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, usually thrifty in open declarations, firmly opposed the decision. Joe Biden took the liberty of using the new president’s favourite social media to tweet “Brought by parents, these children had no choice in coming here. Now they’ll be sent to countries they’ve never known. Cruel. Not America.”
Civil society, showing an ever growing reactivity to the administration’s abusive actions, has also mobilised via bottom-up demonstrations in New York, Los Angeles and Washington. More than 400 CEOs and business executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page, have signed an open letter in defense of non-deportation and regularisation.
Rational argument against the human catastrophe
An argument was made about the economic importance of those young workers, and the necessity to find a humanistic resolution. The Guardian tried to assess the macroeconomic impact by evaluating the loss in GDP after the removal of DACA workers. The results are 1.2 billion $ for California, 0.7 billion for Texas and 0.3 billion for New York. A quick resolution would have particular relevance in Texas and California since most of these young are concentrated between them.
After the political and civil response, fifteen states and the district of Washington have grouped into a legal procedure under Head of New York State Justice Eric Schneirdman’s leadership. The states of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Washington, and Hawaii have initiated a larger debate on the Constitution. California has already undertaken the renewal of more than a quarter of the applications, enjoying the ‘breach’ by the administration. A 2-year status prolongation is proposed for people whose status expires between now and the Congressional legislative settlement deadline on the 5th March.
The date was arbitrarily decided by Trump as a 6-months truce before acting by decree. On the day following the announcement, he wrote to the lawmakers saying,”Do your job.” It is another shock for South American communities as over 90% of DACA beneficiaries are from countries south of the future US-Mexico ‘promised wall’.
Former President Barack Obama commented on Jeff Sessions’ announcement saying, “the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision and a moral question.” This quote can be contrasted with the one by Obama, in 2012, “so we prioritise border security, putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history.”
Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt