DACA Continues and DAPA Ends: Advocating for a More Just Immigration Policy

June 16, 2017 Alan Jenkins

Insights from The Opportunity Agenda

President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday night that it will continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, that young people enrolled in the program will “continue to be eligible” to renew every two years, and that “no work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates.”

The preservation of DACA is an important victory and an opportunity to promote full inclusion of new Americans and their families. And the ending of DAPA—though it has no immediate legal effect—highlights the continued harm that flawed immigration enforcement policies inflict.
Photo of people at a protest standing up for the undocumented

At the same time, the Administration formally ended the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, program initiated by President Obama. DAPA would have deferred deportations for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the U.S. since before 2010.  DAPA had been stalled in the courts and not implemented.

The preservation of DACA is an important victory and an opportunity to promote full inclusion of new Americans and their families. And the ending of DAPA—though it has no immediate legal effect—highlights the continued harm that flawed immigration enforcement policies inflict.

In talking about Thursday’s decisions, and advancing our own affirmative narrative, The Opportunity Agenda recommends:

  • Leading with values of dignity, inclusion, family, and diversity as one of our nation’s greatest strengths.
  • Framing the DACA decision accurately as one positive step in the right direction for our entire nation, including the thousands of young people who will now continue to be a dynamic part of our nation’s social fabric and economic engine.
  • Lifting up the courageous and eloquent leadership of Dreamers and their families, who have shifted the debate and continue to move policy.In doing so, it’s important not to fall into the “good immigrant/bad immigrant trap,” but rather to acknowledge the leadership of these amazing young people around the country.
  • Framing the negative DAPA decision accurately as a blow to families and communities around the country, as well as to the unity and strength of our nation as a whole.This should be communicated in the larger context of how the Trump administration’s destructive and vindictive immigration raids and detentions hurt us all.And be clear, especially for affected audiences, that the DAPA decision—while wrongheaded—does not immediately change the state of the law.
  • Pointing to concrete, practical alternatives to deportation and detention that uphold our values and move us forward together, from a roadmap to citizenship, to an end to raids and detention, to state and local approaches that affirmatively include and support immigrant communities and protect human rights for all.

Here’s a sample value-problem-solution-action message that tells that story:

VALUE: Our nation is strongest when every one of us can contribute and share ideas, and when everyone’s basic rights and dignity are respected.

PROBLEM: But too often, our immigration laws and practices have violated those values. They divide families, prevent young people from participating in their community and nation, and put millions of our friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors at risk of detention and deportation.

SOLUTION: We need approaches that uphold our nation’s values and move us forward together. We need a road map to citizenship for new Americans, and solutions that respect the human rights and dignity of everyone in our country. The administration’s decision to continue protecting young Dreamers is one step in the right direction. But that spirit should inform and transform all of its approaches to immigration, moving from raids and division toward unity and mutual respect.

ACTION: Call on the administration to move toward these positive solutions that will benefit us all.

You can find more Opportunity Agenda resources on talking about immigration here