President Donald Trump is making immigrants live in fear.
Today is the deadline for undocumented immigrants — who were brought into the United States as children — to re-apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Yet, thousands are choosing to skip it.
In order to fulfill the renewal requirements, undocumented immigrants have to submit identifying information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) claims that more than 36,000 immigrants who are eligible to be protected under DACA have yet to submit their paperwork.
With immigrants learning that their data could be used by the Trump administration to target them and their loved ones, it’s clear that many are choosing not to re-apply out of pure anxiety.
Trump’s decision to give Congress a few months to tackle DACA through legislation would bring former President Barack Obama’s signature immigration program to an end on March 5, 2018, if no action is taken.
Due to Trump’s rule changes, the undocumented were given a much shorter timeframe to apply for renewal. But what’s worse, the current administration could use immigrants’ personal information to target applicants who may be at risk for deportation, an action the Obama administration vowed not to take.
As a result, countless immigrants may feel they are vulnerable, especially if giving the government their personal information means giving the DHS details that could lead them directly to their parents, who are often undocumented and are not eligible to apply for a visa or citizenship.
With roughly 154,000 people who are eligible for renewal skipping the deadline, it’s safe to say that the fear of being targeted by Trump has trampled their willingness to remain covered by DACA.
Despite the potential ramifications in case the DHS decides to use personal information to go after immigrants, Congress could still put an end to this horrific treatment of undocumented immigrants by passing a legislative remedy that would replace DACA and give those who came to the country as children a second chance.
Although, any legislative fix will obviously have to go to Trump’s desk before it’s signed into law. And that’s what's troubling, as the president may not be as willing to sign a bill that gives the undocumented a path to legal residency. Still, it’s worth the try.
After all, Trump seems oblivious to the fact that his actions are hurting law-abiding people who aren’t to blame for having moved here as young children.
It’s clear that Trump's racism and apparent contempt for Latinos is the driving force behind his attack on such a successful program.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, John Gastaldo