It is happening more frequently now…a Republican candidate states that he is not going to renew DACA when it expires. Yesterday, Marco Rubio announced that he will not extend DACA, even if there is no immigration reform provision in place. DACA (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) permits children under the age of 30 who arrived in the United States before they turned 16, and who meet other requirements, to obtain work authorization for a period of two years and to remain in the United States. Travel abroad is also possible when permission is obtained in advance. DACA was an executive action and is set to expire in 2016, unless it is extended. Most of the Republican candidates are either opposed to it or do not want to discuss immigration at all.
Once a person obtains work authorization, he or she begins to work, pay taxes, and perhaps pursue a higher education. A great number of people have applied for DACA. USCIS statistics show that In 2015, alone, over 428,000 people applied for DACA, including those who renewed it, and have received it. So what is the government going to tell these people in 2016? Some DACA recipients will have had work authorization for four years by then, if they had it since the program began. They may have embarked on careers, finished a university degree or both. It is naive to believe that these people will stop working simply because the government in 2016 may state that the program which gave them work authorization has ceased to exist. These people are not going to stop working; there is no incentive for them to stop. They also are not going to leave the United States. If DACA is not extended, they will work illegally and will remain here illegally, just like they were before.
Senator Rubio’s reason for wanting to stop DACA is because he wants to see immigration reform passed. Well, we all want to see immigration reform passed, but it is not happening. What makes him think that it is going to be passed if he becomes president? DACA is not the best program in that it is not immigration reform, but it does permit a small number of people to be here temporarily and have the right to work.
Instead of issuing press releases about whether or not they will support DACA, the Republican candidates should be focusing on something more substantial like immigration reform. Since they do not like the “piece meal” legislation that DACA created, they should create a comprehensive immigration reform package. Failure to do so and failure to extend DACA will just mean that 428, 000 people will be here illegally and working illegally. This would not help the DACA recipients, the Republican Party or the economy. It is great that Senator Rubio wants immigration reform, but I think he should not be so quick to eliminate DACA before the elusive immigration reform bill is passed because chances are, comprehensive immigration reform will never be passed.