Tuesday September 05, 2017

'A step backwards': Immigration protection for 'Dreamers' rescinded by Trump

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration has decided to rescind the so-called 'Dreamers' program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration has decided to rescind the so-called 'Dreamers' program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

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When it comes to the so-called "Dreamers," a group of some 800,000 young men and women living in America who arrived in the country illegally as kids, U.S. President Donald Trump has sent mixed signals about their future.

The program that's allowed Dreamers to continue living and working legally in the U.S., known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), was established by the former U.S. president Barack Obama.

But now under Trump's administration, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the program.

"They're giving us a six-month timeline really before anyone becomes completely undocumented again. And so it's definitely starting from today to make sure that we move on that," says Nanci Palacios, one of the 800,000 young people who was protected under DACA.

Trump Dreamers

Donald Trump, centre, with so-called Dreamers in this August 2013 photo taken at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Estuardo Rodriguez, in the grey suit, stands to the far left. To the left of Trump is Gaby Pacheco, an immigration rights activist. (Courtesy Estuardo Rodriguez)

"We have to work to convince members of Congress — both in the House and in the Senate — to be able to support legislation that will protect us, that will hopefully give us a permanent solution, that will no longer leave us in limbo, that can give us permanent residency — hopefully citizenship," she tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Palacios predicts without the program in place, jobs will be displaced and the economy will take a hit.

"It's a step backwards. It's a step in the wrong direction ... nobody benefits from DACA being taken away. Absolutely nobody."

U.S. loss but Canada's gain

 University of California, Berkeley sociology professor Irene Bloemraad tells Tremonti upon hearing of the DACA program being rescinded, the university has been offering emotional support for students.

"[People] are now facing the prospect of losing their work authorization and being thrust back into the black market and working under the table."

Since the program started in 2012, Bloemraad says applying to DACA was a "rigorous process."

Trump Immigration

Professor Irene Bloemraad sees the potential end to DACA could be an immigration gain for Canada. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

"This is a group that has been really vetted and this is one of the reasons that I think that Canada should maybe step up and offer a pathway for at least some of these young people to go and help Canadian society and the Canadian economy."

She argues rescinding the DACA program is a loss for the U.S. but "young people who are currently documented or those who might be eligible would be a net gain to Canada."

"This is a humanitarian issue clearly, as these young people are going to be potentially subject to deportation."

Related: Canada should welcome America's 'Dreamers'

Bloemraad tells Tremonti that economically "Dreamers" who often speak multiple languages other than English would be great for Canadian businesses.

"They have U.S. education. They've often worked in businesses that have branches or offices in Canada. I just don't see how Canada couldn't benefit from bringing some of these young people within Canadian Immigration."

Listen to the full segment near the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith and Manusha Janakiram.