DAPA And Its Role In the Immigration Debate

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Is DAPA Beneficial Or Detrimental For The United States?

Immigration has always been a contentious issue in the United States. Although the country has progressed and been uniquely shaped by the heritage of the immigration who’ve arrived, arguments old and new consistently plague the news. Not all debates are friendly or overtly hateful, but the deluge of information could be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the state of immigration law today.

Anti-immigrant pundits often try to scapegoat immigrant communities, especially undocumented immigrant communities. Immigrants rights activists also make their own points and pro-immigrant advocacy is as old as the country itself. If you’ve gotten a chance to watch or read the news, you may have heard of a court case the Obama Administration is currently fighting for: the case for DAPA.

What Is the DAPA Program?

DAPA is the acronym for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. The program was announced on November 20, 2014 by President Obama. It’s an executive order meant to provide three year work permits and deportation deferrals to parents of US citizens or permanent residents as long as they had lived in the country since January 1, 2010, passed a background check, and paid for the program’s fee. DAPA was also meant to help provide waivers to sons, daughters or spouses of US citizens and permanent residents. DAPA was also supposed to expand DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program introduced in June 2012, from a two year work permit to a three year work permit.

“Do not deport my father”-Image Source: J Pat Carter

26 states sued the federal government because they felt this executive order was overstepping the boundaries of what President Obama can do about immigration. The plaintiffs say DAPA violates the Constitution. A temporary injunction was issued against DAPA on February 16, 2015 that blocked the program from going through. The Obama Administration responded by making a motion for a stay so that the program could go through. It was denied by the New Orleans United States Court Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 26, 2015.

But that wasn’t the end of DAPA. The Obama Administration once again appealed the case on November 10, 2015. On January 19, 2015 the United States Supreme Court stated that it would hear the case in court in April and expects to make its decision in June.

What Sort Of Changes And Consequences Would DAPA Entail For The United States?

An analysis by the Migration Policy Institute estimates that 5.2 million undocumented immigrants would be eligible for DAPA. This is about half the undocumented immigrant population in the US. The same study concluded that immigrants of Mexican origin would be the top beneficiaries of the program, and found that the top beneficiaries in certain counties from the East Coast tend to be Central and South American.

The top three industries in which many eligible undocumented immigrants work are hospitality, construction, and agriculture. Furthermore, undocumented Mexicans were more likely to qualify for DAPA because they are more like to have children who are US citizens or permanent residents, or to come from a mixed status family that would cause them to qualify for the program.

Image Source: DCW DC Watchdog

Related Content: Why Are Latinos In The US So Anti-Immigration?

Many will then benefit from DAPA coming to fruition, but with elections season the debate would only just start. Because executive orders are by Presidential decree, any future president can also get rid of the program at will. Congress at one point voted to end programs such as DACA. A measure passed in the House but failed in the Senate. However some Republican candidates, such as Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio have said they would not get rid of DACA/DAPA right away if they are elected as President. What is clear now is that deferred action is up in the air until Congress passes a meaningful immigration reform bill. Until then, the fate of millions is now in the hands of the Supreme Court.

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