President Donald Trump promises to consider reforming the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but with a tiny string attached—a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Yes, this is back on the table.
“Our country needs the security of the Wall on the Southern Border, which must be part of any DACA approval,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
Trump made the explicit purpose of the wall clear when he called most Mexicans rapists and criminals who bring drugs into the country at the beginning of his presidential campaign. A border wall would completely undermine the type of immigration reform brought about by DACA. The border wall is a symbol of nativism, as it discriminates against Latinos and Hispanics.
Border security experts agree that a border wall would be ineffective in stopping illegal immigration or drug trafficking. Instead, the wall would divert money from proven border security techniques.
“People that are dealing with this issue know that a third-century solution to a 21st-century problem is not going to fix this long-term,” said Representative Will Hurd (R-Texas).
This is also an expensive endeavor. The New York Times reported the wall would cost about $18 billion over 10 years. And, unlike Trump’s initial promise, Mexico will not be paying for it.
On the other hand, DACA gives leniency to immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, allowing them to receive education and work permits without worrying about deportation.
Data has shown that DACA not only helps immigrants, but the whole American economy. The Center for American Progress found that DACA recipients earn higher wages (which goes to higher tax revenue) and contribute $460 billion to the nation’s GDP.
Trump’s acknowledgement of these facts makes his proposal even more baffling and disingenuous.
If there is no permanent legislation to replace DACA, roughly 800,000 young immigrants will lose their protected status in March. Trump’s deal is a non-starter for several Democratic leaders.
“This is a moral outrage,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on CNN. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) echoed a similar sentiment: “It’s outrageous that the White House would undercut months of bipartisan efforts by again trying to put its entire wish-list of hard-line anti-immigrant bills.”
Several states and the District of Columbia are suing the Trump administration over DACA. A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked the DACA phaseout given the lawsuits and Trump’s contradictory support for the program shown in his tweets.
Judge William Alsup wrote in his ruling, “For the reasons DACA was instituted and for the reasons tweeted by President Trump, this order finds that the public interest will be served by DACA’s continuation.”