You no doubt have heard the big news coming from the U.S. Capitol in recent weeks. There is something I feel is just as big that happened about a block away but seems to be getting buried if not lost entirely in the news cycle.
I’m talking about arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the Trump administration’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was legal. The topic has been hotly debated since former President Barack Obama created the program in June 2012 after Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act, which would have cleared the way to citizenship for certain immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
The DACA program defers deportation proceedings for two years for qualified individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children. The program also gives those who are approved work authorization, and the approvals can be renewed.
After Republican attorneys general and governors threatened to take the matter to court if the executive branch didn’t in effect end DACA two years ago, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions determined since DACA was established through an executive action after Congress rejected legislation on the matter, it was “an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws.”
It was the administration’s decision to no longer accept new DACA applications, however, that caught the attention of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, which temporarily and partially blocked the action. Ultimately, the administration’s appeal made it to the high court in Washington, D.C.
Even the most casual observer of the U.S. Supreme Court will tell you not to expect any quick resolution by the justices. The norm is a months-long wait for an answer.
Meanwhile, an estimated 660,880 people await an outcome — and a decision about their futures. That’s an approximation of the number of DACA recipients as of this summer, according to the Migration Policy Institute. That’s roughly the combined populations of Tucson, Buckeye and Maricopa waiting in limbo. Depending on the source, the numbers could be even higher.
All are people who followed the rules. They were asked to come forward and register so they could have the chance to pursue opportunities in the only nation they really know and live in the communities among the people they call friends. With the rug pulled out from under them, they could be deported to places they are certainly too young to remember.
In the meantime, they continue to contribute to a growing economy. I can attest to the impact on Arizona’s technology industry. For example, nearly 30% of roughly 30,000 DACA recipients in Arizona are working in the electronic component and product manufacturing sector. That translates into a third of the state’s DACA recipients working for council member companies. If these companies lose these highly trained employees, “dramatic” would be an understatement when describing the impact.
Consider the trickle-down effect. Bread winners would be lost. Families would be torn apart as they have to decide what to do. If entire families do leave, schools would lose funding, stores would lose customers, and on and on.
As you can tell, the council advocates the DACA program. We hope the Supreme Court does the right thing. Better still, we hope Congress acts to fine tune the program and make it legal even before the court’s decision. Of course, that means working with the president to get his support. What better way to end the divisiveness in Washington than by pulling together for the good of everyone.