Without explicit protection, DACA recipients could end up as "collateral damage"
President Donald Trump has signed executive orders that change the deportation priorities for people who are in the U.S. illegally. Some are worried that recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) could be caught up in the wave of increased enforcement.
Sometimes called “DREAMers,” DACA recipients are young people who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and who meet certain eligibility requirements, like being enrolled in school. The program has offered some conditional protections from deportation since 2012. But as immigration attorney Brad Maze explained, the recent executive orders may put some of these people in jeopardy.
President Trump’s executive orders do not explicitly include DACA recipients as targets of deportation. But Maze said they do not explicitly exclude them, either. That means if enforcement agents encounter DACA recipients, even in the course of pursuing a different individual, people with DACA can still be deported.
“If you have DACA and you’re accidentally arrested, you could be subject to removal,” Maze said. “President Trump needs to explicitly exclude DACA recipients from these executive orders,” he said.
Otherwise, these young people may become “collateral damage" in the immigration crackdown.
In addition to the legal uncertainty for DACA recipients, Maze said there are also real economic risks if these young people are deported.
“These DACA recipients have a lot of human capital,” Maze said. “If there’s a path to legalization, their contribution to the economy will increase about 20% more.”
According to Maze, it doesn’t make sense to deport undocumented people like DACA recipients, who are contributing to their communities and don't pose a safety risk.
Hear more from our interview with immigration attorney Brad Maze above.