Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a set of laws in the US that allow for individuals that have been brought into the country as children to be granted a renewable two-year deferred period of time, as well as a working permit. Its purpose was to bring illegal immigrants into the light and ensure their protection and participation in the life of society.
This paper aims to analyze the competing perspectives on the constitutionality, efficiency, and feasibility of DACA in the US.
The DACA bill is a descendent of the previous DREAM Act, which acknowledged young immigrants unlawfully residing in the US as potential citizens. It was an attempt to solve the lack of status issue for undocumented migrants, as over 65,000 such students yearly graduate from US high schools (Olivas 2020). The bill offered a clear path for citizenship and permanent residency in the US. It failed to pass in the Senate in 2007 and 2011 due to Republican opposition. The DACA bill was introduced during the Obama and allowed children brought into the US at a very young age a renewable two-year period of protection from deportation, as well as eligibility for a work permit (Olivas 2020). DACA does not permit citizenship in the US at this time under its provisions.
Discussion of Competing Perspectives
Perspective 1: Constitutionality of DACA
The first issue with DACA that creates competing perspectives is its constitutionality. Both sides are quoting the 14th Amendment as a means to support the allowance or denial of citizenship rights to children of illegal aliens (Arthur 2018). Opponents of DACA cite the supreme court decision in the United States v. Wong Kim Ark stated the following:
… The mother and father of the said Wong Kim Ark being Chinese persons and subjects of the emperor of China, and the said Wong Kim Ark being also a Chinese person and a subject of the emperor of China. (Arthur 2018, p. 5)
However, since DACA deals with allowing deferred action and working permits without giving recipients a path to citizenship, it does not break the 14th Amendment, which considers itself with citizenship birthright. Therefore, the argument against the constitutionality of the law does not hold up to scrutiny.
Perspective 2: Effectiveness of DACA
Like the DREAM Act before it, DACA aimed at reducing the number of illegal immigrants who are not covered by the US laws and protections. It succeeded in validating the children of migrants. At the same time, however, it encouraged more migrants to come to the US with young children (Roth 2019). This is done under the assumption that parents of DACA-eligible children would not be deported, even though it is not the case. Thus, although DACA helps existing children of migrants get legal status, it also encourages breaking the law and risks leaving the recipients parentless and without support in another country.
Perspective 3: Feasibility of DACA
The third competing perspective on DACA is whether or not it is feasibly sustainable. On the one hand, DACA succeeds in solving the economic issues associated with migrants – the US labor market relies on migrants in several important areas, such as agriculture (Olivas 2020). At the same time, it creates tension between the locals and the immigrants, as their entrance forces down wages in the low-skill job sectors – migrants are willing to work for less and under poorer conditions (Olivas 2020). However, that argument could be interpreted in a different manner – the government ought to prevent the exploitation of immigrants by businesses and companies that benefit from their lack of documentation and vulnerability.
While DACA does spark debate over the alleged controversy of the Act, its perspectives are not as negative as initially perceived. It does not violate any constitutional foundations of the country, and it can work feasibly well if migrants and their children are protected from exploitation by local businesses. One major issue, however, is the alleged encouragement of breaking the law by parents of DACA recipients, but that remains a part of a larger migration issue in the US.
Arthur, A. R. 2018. Birthright citizenship: An overview. Center for Immigration Studies, 1(1): 1-16.
Olivas, M. A. 2020. Perchance to DREAM: A legal and political history of the DREAM Act and DACA. NYU Press.
Roth, B. J. 2019. The double bind of DACA: Exploring the legal violence of liminal status for undocumented youth. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 42(15): 2548-2565.