The Rights to Citizenship for DACA Students and the Political Controversy

The current immigration policy of tThe Uncited States evokes concerns of both Republicans and Democrats as well as the affected persons. One of the most controversial issues, in this case, is the provisions of the program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), implying the permission to temporarily defer deportation and legally work (Stephens 159). Alongside the general permission to stay in the country, this initiative ensures the rights of foreign students who moved to the United States as children to education. However, the problem here is in the fact that the students face specific difficulties when obtaining citizenship which is not foreseen by the program. Meanwhile, these people are accustomed to living in the country and are perceived as Americans in every matter except for the legal aspect. This situation hinders their professional growth and overall wellbeing. Therefore, DACA students should be allowed to have a pathway to citizenship in the United States of America.

The Need to Ensure the Rights of DACA Students to Obtain Citizenship

At present, the DACA students face the risk of deportation from the United States, whereas the only circumstance which deprives them of their rights is the lack of legislative measures in this respect from the government. This situation seems unfair to this population group since most Republicans and Democrats confirm that they should be entitled to citizenship (Kopan and Fox). Moreover, the intention of Donald Trump to end the DACA program contradicting their stance is not justified by any legal provisions (Camacho). From this perspective, this case should be perceived as a violation of undocumented students’ rights. It is explained by the fact that the generalization of all immigrants, regardless of their characteristics and life circumstances, is not an appropriate practice for a democratic country.

Another reason why DACA students should be allowed to obtain citizenship in the United States is the losses of the country from an economic perspective if they would be deported after graduation. According to the researchers, about 800,000 young people across the country are employed under this program (Camacho). Moreover, their numbers are increasing every year since graduates join them after receiving DACA work permits. Considering the fact that 100,000 DACA children graduate from high school every year, their deportation will lead to a significant shortage of qualified personnel (Camacho). In this way, not only the interests of these students but also the benefits for the government should be considered when making decisions regarding their legal status. From this point of view, the optimal solution is to provide them with an opportunity to obtain citizenship.

This situation is complicated by the increased financial burden of the educational institutions in the United States which tend to support DACA children, thereby emphasizing their importance in contrast to the government’s immigration policy. Thus, many colleges and universities establish special resource offices or designated specialists providing support for undocumented students (Camacho). As opposed to their initiatives, federal law prohibits them from being eligible for such government aids as Pell Grants or the Federal Work-Study Program (Stephens 161). It is clear that the financing of foreign students is not reasonable for the country. However, since there is no way to compensate for the spent funds of educational institutions, it would be better to provide DACA children with an opportunity to become citizens of the United States for the country’s benefit.

Finally, obtaining citizenship in the United States is a necessity since, otherwise, the students who spent all their lives in the country will be discriminated against, and this fact will negatively affect their mental health. The researchers claim that this negative impact is no less severe than the financial aspect’s influence, and the present-day colleges and universities already start to provide medical consultations for this population group (Camacho). Moreover, this factor is worsened by the continuous stress resulting from the fear of deportation (Graef and Kopan). In this way, it can be concluded that the opportunity to acquire citizenship for DACA students has not only economic but also health implications.

The Opposition to Citizenship Acquisition by DACA Students

The opposing views on the need for an immigration reform providing special consideration of people under DACA in obtaining citizenship were primarily justified by the necessity to ensure national security. It was repeatedly emphasized by Donald Trump, and this fact hindered the development of corresponding legislative measures addressing the needs of DACA students as well (Faris). Hence, the president insists on building a border wall and presents this step as the only condition under which he would approve of the reform (Fox). By stating this, he demonstrates his attitude towards all categories of immigrants, considering them as a threat without any exceptions. His requirement might adversely affect people since civil liberties will be thereby violated. They will face not only the difficulties in legally crossing the border but also problems regarding economic activity with the US. Hence, the category of immigrants under consideration, DACA students, might struggle due to the lack of financial support from their families outside the wall. Therefore, despite the seeming reasonability of Trump’s stance, it is vital to apply a different approach to the people who spend most of their lives in the United States.

The opponents of the immigration reform also state that there is no need to create a special procedure for DACA students in obtaining citizenship since they can use the existing legal way to do it. For this, they need to leave the country after graduation and apply for a green card from their countries of origin (Kopan and Fox). Eventually, they will become citizens of the United States as any other categories of immigrants. Nevertheless, this stance is mostly attributed to Republicans and implies the neglect of individual circumstances. The problem is in the seeming inequality of DACA students since some immigrant students in the United States came to study with a legal visa, whereas others had to apply for a green card. Therefore, the lack of uniform procedures for them adds to the necessity to consider their situations on an individual basis.

Another argument against specific conditions for DACA students to obtain citizenship is the alleged privileges which their parents will receive in this situation. Initially, the program was complemented by Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) to make families permanent residents of the United States (Stephens 159). Meanwhile, parents may be uneducated and unable to occupy the required jobs. In this case, they will have to use the government benefits and thereby worsen the economic situation in the country. From this point of view, it would be logical to provide citizenship only for students in contrast to the generalized approach and treat their parents differently.

The final argument against the specified changes in the United States’ immigration policy is the unconstitutional nature of the DACA program. Thus, twenty-five states led by Texas filed a lawsuit against its introduction in 2014 (Stephens 159). Since then, this initiative’s future remains ambiguous as well as the prospects for immigrant students as the programs are only temporarily blocked (Stephens 159). From this point of view, the introduction of the procedure for acquiring citizenship for DACA students seems impossible until the case is resolved. However, this situation does not change the fact that their rights are thereby violated, and this problem should be adequately addressed. Otherwise, such consequences as discrimination and harm for these people’s mental health as well as financial losses will be inevitable.

Current Policy of the Government in Relation to DACA students

The government’s actions regarding the identified problem of DACA students remain scarce due to the lack of agreement between the Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They are complicated by the Trump administration’s work attempting to end the program, but without success (Camacho). Therefore, its future remains uncertain until the lawmakers find a compromise between all political actors (Faris). However, the consensus will be reached only if the willingness of Republicans and Democrats to act will be complemented by the efforts of the president, who still hinders the process by presenting his requirements (Faris). Therefore, it is too early to speak of the outcome of the protracted debate on the subject.

At present, the government does not issue any new permits under the DACA or the DAPA programs until the situation becomes clear. Nevertheless, they do not revoke the already issued documents for immigrant students, thereby allowing them to graduate from universities (Kopan). The only achievement in this respect is related to children’s restrictions in sponsoring their parents (Faris). As for the other matters, the compromise has not been reached yet, even though the political leaders claim that they are getting closer to the resolution of the issue of citizenship (Kopan and Fox). Thus, the needs of the students are not addressed, and their position in the country is unstable.

Justification of the Proposed Initiative

The intention of the United States’ leaders to develop a varying procedure of citizenship acquisition for DACA students implies numerous benefits. It seems to be advantageous from the economic perspective since the students will subsequently become useful members of society (Graef and Kopan). Hence, their contribution to the government’s economy can be considered as the main decisive factor. Moreover, they will receive the essential social guarantees they were deprived of due to their origin (Stephens 159). This consequence will also allow avoiding mental health complications among young people resulting from their discrimination, as it was mentioned above.

The adoption of the specified procedure and, more specifically, an individualized approach to the immigrant students with varying rights will allow to avoid protests. Less privileged categories of them, who had to apply for a green card instead of receiving a visa to study in the United States, might not like the situation and cause problems (Kopan). The temporary nature of their residence in the country and unclear perspectives in the future will add to the conflict since this inequality in rights might be applied to the chances to acquire citizenship. Therefore, the introduction of new rules is needed, and the measures planned for an extended period of time might not satisfy the students currently living in the United States (Kopan). Even if the initiative of Trump is accepted by others, additional actions allowing to distinguish different categories of immigrants are required.

As for the opposition of Republican leaders to the adoption of measures allowing DACA students to apply for citizenship in the United States is based on their attitudes rather than common sense. Therefore, it should not be viewed as an obstacle, whereas their needs should be also addressed. Thus, they do not provide any factual data regarding crime rates among the category of students under consideration or other evidence to justify their stance (Olivo). It means that their threats to take legal action against Trump are not reasonable (Olivo). In order to come to an agreement on the proposed immigration reform, it is critical to assess the evidence instead of discussing opinions.

Summary of the Evidence

To summarize, the attitudes towards the controversial issue of the provision of rights to citizenship acquisition to DACA students were sufficiently justified by the immigration reform supporters. Their principal argument was connected to the fact that the actions of Trump against it were not underpinned by any legal provisions. They also claimed that the tremendous economic losses resulting from the potential deportation of qualified specialists are a good reason to protect this population group’s rights. Such a policy would also allow eliminating risks for students’ mental health and ease the financial burden of educational institutions.

As for the opponents’ views, they do not seem to be sufficiently justified since they lack evidence. Thus, for example, it is still unclear why DACA students without prior criminal histories living in the United States for years might be viewed as a threat to national security. Therefore, the opinion of the president does not seem to be connected to any reasons except for his personal attitude. Another alleged negative consequence of the proposed reform, the benefits for parents which may result in an economic burden, does not mean that the rights of students should not be guaranteed. It only allows concluding on the need to distinguish the programs for parents and students instead of violating the latter’s rights.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the current immigration policy does not protect DACA students’ rights regarding citizenship acquisition despite their long-term stay in the country and educational status. This situation evokes continuous discussions among political leaders, and most of them agree that this gap in the provisions of corresponding legislative documents should be adequately addressed. Otherwise, there is a possibility of economic losses for the country and damage to young people’s mental health resulting from such discrimination. The opposition’s arguments, in this case, seem to be reasonable as well, but they do not solve the existing problem. In other words, the considerations of national security and constitutionality are vital in the matter, but the rights of DACA students are no less important.

Nevertheless, despite the seeming reasonability of the introduction of a new immigration reform resolving the specified issue, there are apparent obstacles preventing from making a final decision. They are mostly connected to the strong opposition of some Republicans threatening the Donald Trump administration and the doubts regarding the legality of DAPA and DACA developed by Barack Obama. Moreover, the current president’s requirements in terms of national security, more specifically, the construction of a new border wall and other measures, are unreasonably expensive. In this way, the potential reform’s economic and social advantages are compensated by Trump’s proposal’s irrationality. Thus, the issue of citizenship for DACA students remains necessary, but the lack of agreement between the political actors hinders its progress.

References

Camacho, Sayil. The Conversation, 2020, Web.

Faris, David. “Trump and the GOP Have Created a DACA Crisis That Is Gambling on Young People’s Lives.” Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. 2018, Web.

Fox, Lauren. CNN Politics, 2018, Web.

Graef, Aileen, and Tal Kopan. CNN Politics, 2018, Web.

Kopan, Tal. CNN Politics, 2018, Web.

Kopan, Tal, and Lauren Fox. CNN Politics, 2018, Web.

Olivo, Antonio. The Washington Post, 2017,

Stephens, Aarti D. “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).” Immigration and Migration: In Context, edited by Thomas Riggs and Kathleen J. Edgar, Gale, a Cengage Company, 2017, pp. 159-164.

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