SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! vehemently opposes any presidential action that unfairly targets immigrants, disrupts families, and punishes children. The decision to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an affront to all aspects of social justice and human decency. Because of this decision, some 800,000 people will lose their jobs, be forced to halt their education, and be removed from the only home they have ever known.
Let us be clear that DACA, for all its allowances, was never an ideal protection for immigrant families and placed overly stringent eligibility criteria on its applicants. Among other rigorous requirements, DACA candidates must have entered the US before their 16th birthday, been under the age of 31 at the time of its enactment in 2012, and have not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor. It is also worth noting that DACA was enacted after our elected representatives failed to pass the DREAM Act, which was a far more comprehensive bill that would have provided a pathway to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants, and has since been met with serious opposition from lawmakers across party lines. Meanwhile, even though DACA recipients have paid about $2 billion in state and local taxes, the program offers no real pathway to citizenship and effectively traps its recipients in a kind of indentured servitude. Furthermore, DACA grantees are not eligible for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and cannot get Medicaid either, which means that they can only access health insurance through an employer, by being a spouse’s dependent, going to a community clinic or purchasing it on their own. Nonetheless, research shows that DACA increased the wages and labor force participation of DACA-eligible immigrants, reduced the number of undocumented immigrant households living in poverty, and increased the mental health outcomes for DACA-eligible immigrants and their children. These benefits come at a price, as recipients pay upwards of $495 in application fees, and are expected to renew their application every two years provided they remain in good standing.
As many have pointed out, this decision will be to the detriment of this country and to the 800,000 workers who have steadily paid into the American social security system. The president’s decision is ethically deplorable and his suggestion that the dissolution of DACA will create more jobs for underemployed Americans is a desperate attempt to drive a wedge between marginalized people and stunt the possibility of a cross-movement revolution. The truth of the matter is that 6 million jobs remain unfilled in the United States, a record high, despite DACA recipients being employed. In fact, experts say ending protections for DACA recipients would worsen the shortage of workers in the country. This comes as no surprise given the current administration’s track record, and it is also not a surprise that this decision exists as another attack from the Trump administration on the LGBTQ community, as nearly 75,000 individuals eligible for DACA identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi- Sexual, Queer and/or Trans*. This decision falls in line with the Trump administration’s continued assault on people already living marginalized experiences in our country, specifically immigrants and communities of color. This blatant white supremacist act cannot be understated.
Time and time again, our elected officials speak to the concern for children, but where is that concern now that these children are of color? Why hold children responsible for a decision they themselves had no say in? Will they be singing the same tune come November 2018, when a total of 468 seats in the U.S. Congress (33 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) are up for election?
In these times of escalated racial animosity, homophobia, transphobia, and executive assaults on marginalized communities, we must work hard to ensure our fellow human beings are protected. SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW! stands in resistance and calls on everyone to speak out against bigotry from our elected officials.
We are here to stay.