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Trump moves to end protection of migrant children

7 September 20170 comments

US President Donald Trump has begun the process of scrapping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects about 800,000 immigrants who entered the US illegally as children.

The DACA program, also known as Dreamers, was put in place through an executive action by then President Obama.

Mr Trump has ordered a phased-out dismantling that gives a gridlocked Congress six months to decide the immigrants’ fate.

His decision comes after industry groups in the US called on him to leave the scheme in place because of the massive cost employers who currently employ these people will face.

Observers say the move costs employers $US3 billion in employee turnover costs, including recruiting, hiring, and training 720,000 new employees.

Every week for the next two years, US employers will have to terminate 6,914 employees who currently participate in DACA at a weekly cost of $US 61 million.

DACA recipients receive employment authorisation documents (EADs). It is not illegal to work without authorization, but it is illegal for employers to hire someone who lacks authorisation.

So, DACA EADs essentially grant permission to employers to hire DACA beneficiaries for a given period—in this case, two years—without fear of employer sanctions for hiring an unauthorised worker.

America’s tech sector has been particularly vocal on the issue.

A group of entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Box CEO Aaron Levie, eBay President and CEO David Wenig, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Lyft founders John Zimmer and Logan Green and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings have opposed the move.

“Dreamers are critical to the future of the companies and the economy. With them, we grow and create jobs. They are partial of because we will continue to have a global rival advantage,” tech sector leaders said in an open minute to the President.

“Unless we act now to safety the DACA program, all 780,000 overworked immature people will remove their ability to work legally in this country, and every one of them will be at evident risk of deportation. Our economy would remove $460.3 billion from the inhabitant GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare taxation contributions,” the minute said.

Mr Obama was quick to condemn the decision, releasing an 850-word statement on social media in which he said the move was “cruel” and “self-defeating”.

“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally,” Mr Obama wrote on Facebook.

“It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” he said.

“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”

Mr Trump’s action was presented by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions as necessary to show respect for American immigration laws.

“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple,” Mr Sessions said.

“That would be an open-border policy and the American people have rightly rejected that,” he said.

Mr Trump’s order, deferring the actual end of the program, effectively passes responsibility for the fate of the Dreamers on to his fellow Republicans who control Congress.

But Congress has been unable to pass any major legislation since the President Trump took office in January and has been bitterly divided over immigration in the past.

Mr Obama created DACA through an executive order in 2012 as a compromise after failing to push the immigration policy changes he wanted through Congress for immigrant children that he considered to be highly vulnerable and a low threat.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist