By The Echo Editorial Board | Board of Editors
Earlier this week, the White House changed the legal status of more than 800,000 young adults living in this country. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is no more.
President Obama drafted the DACA program in 2012 to shelter from deportation and unemployment those who came to the United States as children. It was designed as a temporary placeholder to ensure children of illegal immigrants were not punished for their parents' choices, at least until the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act - first introduced in 2001 - was passed to give them a path to citizenship.
Sixteen years later, the DREAM Act never passed, leaving 800,000 "dreamers" with only temporary citizenship, that of the DACA program. This brings us to Tuesday of this week, when President Trump ordered the end of the DACA program with a six month delay, prodding lawmakers to reconsider the DREAM Act, and threatening dreamers with deportation come March.
To put this in perspective, the average age at which a DACA recipient crossed over the border was six years old. Program recipients had no choice, and they know no other home - many have lived here for decades. They are Americans lacking the proper citizenship paperwork, waiting on a broken legislative branch.
Research into the DACA program consistently demonstrated DACA recipients are the kind of young adults who make America better. They are financially stable, educated and entrepreneurial. A criminal record disqualifies potential applicants. They are exceptional people deserving of American citizenship.
And, according to a poll from Morning Consult, 95 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans support their right to live in America. Congress failed dreamers. President Obama's DACA order gave them hope, but 16 years of futile partisan politics kept 800,000 people from the path to permanent citizenship. And now, DACA is being rescinded.
Those who critique DACA talk of President Obama's executive overreach in establishing the program. It's the cited reason why the program was taken away. But the rescindment of the DACA program was not a legal necessity; it is a humanitarian concern. These are real people. They did not choose to come here, but they have improved their communities by being here. They are our neighbors.
Therefore, it is with great passion that The Echo Editorial Board denounces the rescindment of the DACA program. The Trump administration has cast the shadow of deportation over our neighbors; we vow, instead, to welcome the stranger.
Our representatives in Washington have precisely six months to pass legislation protecting dreamers before the program is phased out completely. There's a potentially simple fix to this. Unfortunately, our legislators do not have a very good track record.
What can you do to help? As it turns out, a lot.
America is a representative democracy - it is literally the job of lawmakers to listen to their constituents. Want a simple, tangible way to love your neighbor as yourself? Let your representatives know you care about dreamers. We have six months.