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Phasing Out DACA is a Grave Injustice

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September 5, 2017

Phasing Out DACA is a Grave Injustice
AAA Statement on Trump Administration Announcement to End DACA

They are immigrants, and they are us. Take a long hard look at that teenager studying in the library, the young woman working late at the office, the little boy standing in line with his mother. They are our grandfathers or perhaps great grandmothers only a few generations removed. They came, and still come, to this country; dreamers in search of sharing the American dream. The fact is nearly all of us have an immigration story in our family history.

President Trump’s plan to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, is disingenuous if not outright mean spirited. Among other consequences, it would restrict Dreamers’ access to higher education, make them vulnerable to exploitation by employers who could take advantage of their deportability, and rob them of the chance to lead fully productive lives.

The president is being pushed by nine Republican state attorneys general, along with Republican Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, threatening to sue the administration if it fails to start dismantling the program by Sept. 5. Instead, he would do well to heed the true bipartisanship of Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who introduced The Dream Act, legislation that potentially grants legal permanent resident status to an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before age 16 and can meet all DACA requirements.

Opponents of DACA proclaim that it opens the floodgates to more illegal migration. But there is not a shred of evidence from scientific research that the availability of DACA, or any social service, is what attracts immigrants. In a recent LA Times editorial, Wayne Cornelius, director emeritus of the Mexican Migration Field Research Program at UC San Diego, writes that overwhelming evidence shows “they come because of family ties and wage and employment differentials between their country and the United States. Some are fleeing gangs and drug violence in their place of origin.”

As a whole, Dreamers are highly motivated young people who have learned English, studied to better themselves, pay taxes, and are committed to this country, their country, to which they now live. It is a grave injustice to hold them responsible for circumstances over which they had no control.  Where would we be if our parents, grandparents, and extended families had had the door to opportunity slammed in their faces?

They are our past, our grandparents and great grandparents. They are our future, the talented cohort of next-generation youth. They are immigrants, and they are us.

- - AAA - -

Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.

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