DACA’s third anniversary is bittersweet. On the one hand, it improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of undocumented people brought into the U.S. by their parents by protecting them from deportation. On the other, it is but a temporary measure, deeply resented by a House of Representatives that has repeatedly voted to eliminate it.
This date lends itself for all kinds of manipulations. It gives some a chance to be hypocritical and blame President Obama for the shortcomings of an immigration reform that did not go through Congress. They do not acknowledge that these failures are really due to the fact that both Republican-led legislative bodies are dominated by the strongest opponents to comprehensive reform.
Immigration is such a complex topic for Republicans that they have not been able to devise a strategy to deal in a realistic and positive manner with the multiple security, economic and humanitarian aspects of a reform. Whoever says the opposite is lying. Again and again, House votes against DACA and debate transcripts reveal the prevailing animosity directed toward immigrants.
This is why executive actions became necessary. The three-year-old measure benefited over three million youths as well as the country as a whole. A thorough study conducted by Harvard sociologist Roberto González shows that 60% of DACA recipients have obtained jobs since they became protected from deportation. Of those, 45% said that their incomes have increased. New jobs and higher income translate into a larger tax base and a boost for the economy.
Still, the Republican notion that every undocumented person is a bad person does not change. That is why they are trying to stop all attempts to expand DACA and launch DAPA for another group of immigrants. Republicans want to convince everyone that the problem is in the executive action when their real conflict is more about content than form.
We want comprehensive reform, and Congress must continue to allow these extensions. In the next election, theoretical support will not matter as much as preventing those who are now protected from being deported.