Congress has until March 5 to replace DACA.
By Collin Quezada
“Dreamers,” young undocumented immigrants who are eligible for DACA’s benefits, are considered “threads in the American tapestry, adding fibers of other cultures into the fabric of America,” political science Coordinator Christy Woodward-Kaupert said Sept. 12 in an interview with The Ranger.
“These immigrants are acculturated, and many are, by the third generation, fully assimilated” into the framework of American society, she said.
Although these young people were born in another country, they are “no less American than the rest of us.”
Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals whose work permits expire before March 5, may apply for a two-year renewal if they submit their applications by Oct. 5, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
About 1,000 DACA recipients are enrolled in Alamo Colleges, according to the district website.
DACA essentially permits immigrants under the age of 16 who were brought to this country by their parents to apply for lawful status, granting them amnesty from federal extradition across renewable two-year intervals.
Prerequisites for DACA recipients are moderately restrictive, offering reprieves of deportation for only 7 percent of the undocumented immigrant population, which was recorded to be 11.3 million as of 2016 by the Pew Research Center.
The Trump administration rescinded DACA Sept.5 while allocating a six-month window for Congress to pass legislation.
Woodward-Kaupert, who specializes in demography, said today’s immigration policies should reflect the ethnic makeup of the country. She said Congress should address the shift in the demographic climate as minority groups — primarily Hispanics — collectively surpass the “white majority,” which Woodward-Kaupert believes will transform the United States into a majority-minority country by 2055.
Woodward-Kaupert said Congress had a duty to preserve DACA and safeguard the interests of the Dreamers as the future of the country.
She said Texas was among the first to implement similar legislation, pioneering the cause by passing the Texas Dream Act of 2001, in House Bill 1403, that offered virtually the same protections as DACA.
Woodward-Kaupert also pointed out the Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe (1982) that declared that all individuals, regardless of documentation, are included in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Texas Dream Act drew inspiration from the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors act that was a bipartisan legislative effort in 2001 but has failed on numerous occasions over the past 16 years.
Woodward-Kaupert doubts the sincerity of Republican claims of unconstitutionality, referring to several instances of where President Trump committed similar actions via executive orders.
Immigration policymaking has been debated by Congress since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, with the first 100 years after the Civil War tending to target specific racial groups.
Over time, the United States has imposed ethnically centered restrictions, which instituted quotas for certain groups.
Acts of Congress, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 and Operation Wetback of 1954, excluded immigrants from certain countries during periods of economic crisis.
The Hart-Celler Act of 1965 abolished the quotas of previous acts and ended policies based on race but also ushered in the surge of illegal immigrants that increased the number of undocumented immigrants from 540,000 in 1969 to 11.3 million in 2016.