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Trump ends DACA: All you need to know about it and how Indians are impacted

Move likely to impact 800,000 undocumented workers, including more than 20,000 Indian-Americans

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

DACA programme, US
File photo people chanting slogans against US President Donald Trump’s proposed end of the DACA programme.

With President Donald Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era executive order known as (DACA), worst fears of young immigrants seem to be coming true.

The historic move is likely to impact 800,000 undocumented workers, including more than 20,000 Indian-Americans who trusted the US government with their fingerprints and other personal information when they applied for DACA. 

Most of the immigrants protected by DACA, dubbed 'Dreamers', came from Mexico and other Latin American countries. 

What is DACA?

The DACA programme granted the undocumented youth temporary reprieve from deportation and the ability to legally apply for a job or get admission to educational institutions. 

The programme grants them a two-year reprieve that can be extended by issuing them identity papers like driver’s licences, work permit and a social security number. 

However, DACA does not provide beneficiaries legal residency in US.

How could one enrol under the programme?

An immigrant was required to be at 15 years of age when applying for DACA. They were to submit proof that they were brought to the US before they turned 16 and were under 31 when the programme was launched. 

The application cost was nearly $500 and permits needed to be renewed every two years. The application and renewal process took several weeks.

What about Indians living in US?

Around 20,000 people from India who arrived in the US illegally as children are fearing deportation, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said.

"Over 27,000 Asian-Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 from Pakistan are eligible for DACA, placing India among the top ten countries for DACA eligibility," SAALT said.

With the termination of DACA, these individuals could face deportation at the discretion of the administration.

What happens to other DACA recipients?

The so-called 'Dreamers' who have benefited from the five-year-old programme have been plunged into uncertainty but the has said no current beneficiaries of the programme would be affected before March 5, 2018.

Many DACA beneficiaries worry they will be forced to take lower wage and under-the-table jobs, and will be unable to pay for college or assist their families financially. 

If their permits expire before March 5, they will be eligible to renew them for another two years, provided they apply by October 5. The fates of those immigrants whose permits either expire after March or those who miss the October deadline would hang in the balance.

It will be up to the Congress to take up and pass a legislation helping the DACA beneficiaries. One Bill introduced this year would provide a path to legal permanent residency.

Why did Trump end DACA?

Trump was apparently under pressure from several states that found the programme unconstitutional and threatened to sue his administration if it did not call the curtains on DACA. 

It is also widely speculated that Trump is aiming to alienate Hispanic Americans, a growing segment of the US population and an increasingly important voting bloc.

The action was, however, not announced by Trump but by Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, who called DACA an unconstitutional overreach by Obama. There will be an “orderly, lawful wind-down,” Sessions said.

Immigrant advocates, mayors, governors, Democratic lawmakers, unions, civil liberties advocates and business leaders, including the chief executives of Apple and Microsoft, clergy and many others put intense pressure on Trump to maintain the programme but he decided against it.

How will it affect the US economy?

Executives at Cisco, eBay, General Motors, Marriott and Microsoft warned President Trump of the economic impact of forcing almost 800,000 people back into the legal shadows.

Some of them argued against it saying the economy would lose $460.3 billion from gross domestic product (GDP) and $24.6 billion in social security and medicare tax contributions.

Barack Obama’s take on DACA

The programme was instituted by then president Barack Obama in 2012 via executive order to protect young immigrants who were mostly raised in the US but lacked legal status. The amnesty was backed by Democrats and several American business leaders.

Obama has decried his successor Trump's decision, calling it "wrong," "self-defeating" and "cruel." 

"To target these young people is wrong, because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love,” he said.

First Published: Wed, September 06 2017. 12:53 IST