In six months 800,000 young people may be hunted down and deported. This is more than the population of the city of Seattle. Their only crime was being brought to this country illegally by their parents. They are collectively known as dreamers and covered by an executive order ‘DACA’, Mass round ups of people by the government have been done before notably by the Nazi’s who seized Jews and other undesirables and sent them to camps where many were killed. In this country, to our shame, we sent people of Japanese descent, many of whom were citizens, to internment camps. One hopes that we will not be sending bus loads of young people to the border, forcing them across the border to a country that they do not know, have no ties to, and may not even speak the language.
All DACA does is allow certain young illegal immigrants to apply for work permits. Applicants must have been younger than 16 when brought to this country. They must either still be in school, high school graduates or in the military. They also must not have be convicted of a serious crime and be younger than 31 before 2007. This in not amnesty and does not offer a path to citizenship.
Two reasons are usually given for revoking DACA: President Obama did not have the legal authority to issue the order and the people receiving the work permits are taking jobs away from American citizens. The first part of the argument is already facing legal challenges since no legal precedents were cited. - "Janet Napolitano", former secretary of homeland security, who created the program is among those suing the Trump administration for violating administrative procedures and constitutional due process. A group of 16 state attorney generals have filed suit in Federal court claiming that the order was driven by racial motives and failed to follow federal rules governing executive policy making.
Those who claim take these young people are taking jobs from unemployed citizens never specify what jobs these are. Most of the unemployed who these critics are taking about are older blue collar workers while most of the workers covered by DACA are working in service, sales and administrative support. Very few unemployed blue collar workers are entering these field. The employment rate for these young people is extremely high for two reasons, they are all high school graduates and have clean criminal records. This high labor force participation is important because these workers pay federal and state income taxes and pay into the social security system. Roughly one-fifth of DACA workers are in the health care and educational sector. Government projections show that the economy will need to add hundreds of thousand workers in these fields over the next five to ten years. If the DACA workers in these areas are deported there could be a disaster for those who rely on them for their care.
If these young people lose their work permits, there are other serious consequences for them. They will lose their jobs and any benefits connected to these jobs, including health insurance. Even if they do not have health insurance through their employers, they could lose state-sponsored health benefits. They would lose drivers licenses, teaching licenses and access to some state educational benefits. In many cases, they are the only ones in their family who can work legally and have any health insurance. Their work ethic is also a good example for other family members.
All of these consequences would have served severe impact on the communities in which they live.
The revocation of DACA can affect all of us. The first group that will feel the effects will be the elderly and disabled who need health care workers. There will be a shortage of bilingual teachers and other workers. Our aging population means fewer workers supporting Social Security and a reason for concerns about the future of Medicare. Driving out younger workers will only make these matters only worse. Younger workers are more likely to be consumers rather than the elderly, which is beneficial to businesses. The US Chamber of Commerce understands and is one of the groups opposing the revocation of DACA. We should all understand that this program benefits the whole country.
by - Barbara Libby, Ph.D
May/June - 2018
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