In 2012, current President Barack Obama issued an executive order regarding the U.S.'s immigration policy, granting renewable, two-year deportation deferments for certain undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. In 2016, President-elect Donald Trump promised to overturn Obama's executive orders, including those on immigration policy.
Now, some immigrants' rights groups are warning those protected under the order to avoid international travel following Trump's inauguration, fearing that they could be barred from re-entering the U.S.
Living the Dream
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 the ability to apply for deportation deferral and work permits. In order to qualify, an applicant must also be currently attending school, a high school graduate, or have been honorably discharged from the military, and have no felony or significant misdemeanor convictions. Despite these protections, the program does not offer a legal path to citizenship. (DACA was enacted in response to the failed DREAM Act, therefore those under its purview are still referred to as "dreamers.")
Waking to a Nightmare
Like all dreams, this one seems destined to end. Trump was not shy on the campaign trail about his platform regarding immigration, including plans to bar Muslim immigrants from entering the country, build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and deport any and all undocumented immigrants: "I'm tougher on illegal immigration than anybody. That's what I'm saying we have to take people that are here illegally and we have to move them out and you know what, it's going to be done, it's going to be done."
His words have created legitimate fear that a reversal on DACA will be one of his first acts as president, which could impact millions of people. "We are recommending all travel be completed by or before Jan. 20 in the event laws or procedures experience a drastic change," Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles told the AP. "We wouldn't want to expose them to an uncertain situation should they not be allowed back to the U.S."
Not only could Trump immigration crackdown cost people jobs and homes in the U.S., it could cost the country billions in reduced tax revenue and decreased payments to tax-funded programs like Social Security and Medicare. A recent report indicated American business could lose some 645,000 workers, costing them almost $3.4 billion in rehiring costs.
Whether future President Trump will make good on presidential-nominee Trump's promises remains to be seen, but those potentially affected by his policies would be wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to confirm their legal status.