Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel stated in a speech this week that Chicago would be declared a “Trump-free zone” and encouraged all young DACA recipients in his audience to continue attending school. He told Dreamers that they have nothing to worry about, that Chicago is their home, and that they are welcome in the city.
Emmanuel’s words are a much-needed reassurance following Jeff Sessions’ announcement that President Trump has decided to end DACA based upon its unconstitutionality. The assertion that DACA is unconstitutional is misleading, of course – there has been no official ruling that the implementation of the DACA program was unconstitutional in any way.
The future of our Dreamers has been put on hold and could become enmeshed in a political battle mid-December when Congress must vote to raise the debt ceiling. Democrats claimed victory yesterday as President Trump agreed to a short-term debt ceiling increase, breaking with Republican wishes, and giving Democrats leverage to push for their version of a budget, health care reform, and legislation protecting Dreamers. The Dream Act could come to a vote before December, but immigrants’ rights activists are upset (and understandably so) that the party has chosen political leverage over an immediate solution for those affected.
Democrats and several Republicans have voiced their support for the Dream Act, although Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was quoted suggesting that he was willing to work with Democrats as long as the bill includes border security.
Ryan is on the wrong side of history, and Washington’s general disregard for an urgent human rights issue is unfathomable.
The Daily Beast reports that over 200,000 children could lose their parents if DACA recipients are deported. Deportation is not the only concern – Dreamers could lose their ability to obtain government-issued identification, health insurance, financial aid, and also could lose their professional credentials. There is still a small window for certain DACA recipients to reapply for the program, however, not all will be able to. At the end of Trump’s six-month delay on March 5, permits will expire at a rate of around 1,000 per day. Should the new Dream Act be held hostage in Congress, Dreamers will have nowhere to turn.
The United States is supposed to be a place of refuge for immigrants and refugees everywhere. Dreamers are Americans, and their lives are being put on hold by an administration that our President has filled to the brim with people who pose a threat to the health of our country.