DACA recipients deserve a permanent solution to their status uncertainty that provides a pathway to citizenship and full participation in the only country they have known. This solution should be de-coupled from other issues such as border security. 

The Problem
The 800,000 young people who signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program have utilized that opportunity to study, secure employment, start businesses and more fully integrate into American life. They have played by the rules laid down for them by our government. The decision to terminate the DACA program leaves these individuals in limbo. They live their lives with an expiration date and cannot make long-term decisions for themselves or their families due to the uncertainty of their status. The initial advances they have made will be for naught if they are unable to plan for the future here in their country.

So What?
Immigrants who qualified for DACA are not responsible for their presence in the U.S. nor are they responsible for the failures in our immigration system. Yet, they are paying the price for the actions of their parents and inactions of government officials. This is unfair to these people and deprives the country of the vast human capital and capability that this group represents.

Solutions
Congress should take up legislation that provides DACA recipients with legal permanent resident status and allows them to pursue citizenship after five years. This legislation should not be tied to current border security legislation or other immigration proposals since these individuals had no part in their arrival in the U.S.

Benefits
The vast majority of DACA beneficiaries have spent the past six years under this program, pursuing their education or careers. They are paying taxes and contributing positively to their communities within the limitations imposed by their deferred status. By removing the uncertainty that their temporary status now imposes on them, these Americans in all but name will realize their full potential and engage completely in American life.

 

Sources:
“A New Estimate of the Cost of Reversing DACA,” by Logan Albright, Ike Brannon, and M. Kevin McGee, CATO Institute, CATO Working Paper No. 49, February 15, 2018
“Spotlight on the DACA Eligible Population”, New American Economy, September 1, 2017
“DACA-Eligible Population Earns Nearly $19.9 Billion,” New American Economy, January 28, 2018
“DACA-Eligible Entrepreneurs Earned more than $65.7 Million in Total Business Income in 2015,” New American Economy, January 31, 2018
“DACA-Eligible Population Holds $16.8 Billion in Spending Power,” New American Economy, February 6, 2018
“Ninety Percent of DACA-Eligible Population over 16 are Employed,” New American Economy January 30, 2018
“DACA-Eligible Population Contributes Almost $2.5 Billion to Key Social Service Programs,”, New American Economy, January 29,2018
“DACA-Eligible Population Paid $3 Billion in Taxes,” New American Economy, January 28, 2018