On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration's attempt to end the DACA program, which provides legal protections for 650,000 young immigrants.
The 5-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, didn't pass judgment on the legality of the Obama-era program. Instead, it ruled the administration failed to follow proper procedure in seeking to rescind the controversial program, which was created in 2012. Technically called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the initiative allows people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in this country temporarily and get work permits.
It is worth remembering that former President Obama put this policy in place after Republicans and Democrats could not come to an agreement on a comprehensive immigration reform package. The hope was that, eventually, a permanent solution would be reached.
That has not happened. So thousands of people who live in Iowa and Illinois, who were brought here, on average, when they were less than 10 years old, are in limbo because our political leaders have not been able to find common ground on a solution.
The young immigrants, often called Dreamers, work in hospitals and nursing homes, labor on farms and in meatpacking plants. Lately, they have been especially vulnerable to COVID-19; yet, they continue to contribute to our wellbeing. In Illinois, there are an estimated 35,000 people in the DACA program, and the households in which they live contribute almost $500 million in taxes each year; in Iowa, an estimated 2,500 people are in the program, contributing more than $23 million in taxes. Their total economic contribution is even higher.
It is our hope that the court's decision will be a starting point for the president and Congress to restart negotiations to find a solution for Dreamers, who have built lives here.
The president has previously expressed his willingness to deal on this issue. And polls show there is overwhelming support across the country for protecting Dreamers from deportation. A Pew Research Center poll said 74% of Americans want to give them legal status and the ability to stay; that includes a majority of Republicans.
It may be naive to expect a solution before the November election, but we think there is political upside to both sides if a deal is reached. More importantly, it's the right thing to do.
For now, a cloud over thousands of people has been lifted. But it is a temporary reprieve. Our hope is our political leaders will take this as a cue to fix the situation permanently.
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