The Obama administration established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012 as a means of addressing immigration in the United States. DACA delays the deportation of those who immigrated to the U.S. before the age of 16, and it makes immigrants eligible for work permits. As of September 2017, approximately 700,000 individuals were protected under DACA. However, in 2017, the Trump administration announced an end to the program, claiming that President Obama exceeded his office by instituting the program. Since then, more than 100 individuals per day have lost DACA protection, and Congress has yet to provide a national solution.
The DACA issue has continued into this year, and the Supreme Court began deliberating the repeal of DACA on Nov. 12, with the final verdict expected by June 2020. While these discussions continue, a state-level immigration protections bill — the Safe Communities Act — moves forward in the Massachusetts General Court. In the face of vanishing national protections, this bill is more important than ever before. If passed, it would prevent law enforcement from questioning immigration status and make Massachusetts the first “sanctuary state.”
The Safe Communities Act ensures that the civil rights, safety and human decency of undocumented immigrants in Massachusetts are protected and respected. All individuals, whether they are undocumented or not, should feel safe within their long-term communities and should never be afraid to call the police in the case of an emergency. Immigrants protected by DACA, often called “dreamers,” and other undocumented immigrants should have the same opportunities to exist and succeed in this country as citizens and documented immigrants.
As the Safe Communities Act hearing approaches on Dec. 2, it is vital to recognize the importance of immigration protections to both the United States’ prosperity and the safety of our community members. Immigrants have been the heart of this country since its founding, and the present day is no exception. In fact, over 140 of the country’s largest businesses, including Google, Amazon, IBM and Starbucks, have said that ending the DACA program will hurt the economy — the deportation of nearly 1,000,000 bright young people will not do industries or communities any favors.
DACA is more than a national issue, of course. Immigration insecurity very much touches Tufts, and luckily, our administration has recognized the importance, and moral rectitude, of coming to the defense of undocumented students. This fall Tufts joined 164 other universities in signing an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court that highlights the benefits undocumented students bring to college campuses. Additionally, President Monaco released a statement supporting DACA and undocumented students in which he explained that Tufts has a moral responsibility to protect the wellbeing and safety of its students, regardless of citizenship status. We applaud our university for supporting human rights and fighting to maintain a program vital to the mission of this nation. Tufts should do its part to lobby the Massachusetts General Court, too, and fight to ensure protection for its students on the state and local level.
The repeal of DACA will abridge equity and human rights. Dreamers have lived in the U.S. since childhood. America is their home; to rip an individual from their home is dehumanizing and a profound disgrace to our country’s purported mores of freedom, opportunity and respect. Without protection, hundreds of thousands of people will be sent away from their homes to places they might not even remember. With this in mind, we at Tufts must continue to support our undocumented peers and continue to urge the passage of the Safe Communities Act; there is no reason to believe we can rely on the courts to preserve DACA. Fighting for the Safe Communities Act means fighting for the dignity, humanity and lives of our neighbors, our friends — our fellow human beings.