On Tuesday, the White House rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with a six-month phase-out plan. Many people will have questions about the impact of the decision and the future for those who benefited.
To provide resources that will help all Utahns understand DACA, as it’s commonly called, as well as to help those impacted by the decision, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Department of Heritage & Arts has compiled the following information. Links are provided wherever possible. Please recognize these are informational links and should not be used a substitute for legal advice or seen as an endorsement.
What is DACA?
Established by Executive Order in 2012, DACA allowed “certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.” Five criteria were established, and those who qualified could apply for two years of deferred action as well as work permits. The five criteria and further details can be found on the 2012 announcement.
Who benefits from DACA?
As outlined in the 2012 executive order, those who can receive deferrals are actively in school, have graduated high school (or equivalent), or a veterans of the U.S. military. They cannot be convicted of a felony or a “significant” misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors, nor can they be deemed a threat to national security. They have to be under 30 years old, have lived in the country for at least five consecutive years, and entered prior to 2007. Those receiving deferrals are sometimes called “dreamers” after legislation Congress has considered multiple times that would have created a similar program.
Why is it being rescinded?
In his letter ordering that DACA be rescinded immediately, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the order by President Obama was an unconstitutional “circumvention of immigration laws.” Instead of fighting a court battle, Sessions said he preferred an orderly end to the program. He also points to President Donald Trump’s repeated statements (as a candidate and president) that “proper enforcement of immigration laws” are essential for rule of law and national security. Read the full letter (PDF).
Can DACA be restored?
This specific executive order cannot be restored, although a future president could always reinstate it through a new executive order. In the immediate future, however, Congress will have to authorize the deferrals as a law. That could come as a specific bill (such as the DREAM Act) or as part of a more comprehensive immigration reform package.
Where do Utah’s elected officials stand on the issue?
Generally speaking, most of Utah’s elected officials at the federal and state levels have expressed compassion and support for those benefiting from DACA, even if they oppose how DACA was created. But most also want to make sure that any solution addresses larger immigration issues. As Gov. Gary Herbert said, “With the repeal of DACA, Congress must act quickly, humanely, and with certainty to fix our broken immigration system.” More statements from elected officials at all levels of government and from both parties can be found below.
How can I get involved?
It is expected that Congress will debate the issue by the end of the year. Whatever your personal position is on the issue, is important for your congressional representative and the state’s two senators to hear your voice. All of them should have contact forms on their websites as well as phone numbers, and most will have a section that explains where they currently stand on different issues. If you don’t know who your representative is in Congress, visit elections.utah.gov. One tip: An individualized letter from an identifiable constituent resonates much more strongly with members of the Congressional delegation.
- Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes statement
- Utah Governor Gary Herbert statement
- U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah statements (Sept. 1 | Sept. 5)
- U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, statement
- U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, statement
- U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, statement
- Statement from the University of Utah
- The University of Utah Dream Center
- Utah Valley University Silent DACA March by LULAC
- Statement from Weber State University
- Statement from Southern Utah University
- Statement from Utah State University