A program protecting certain undocumented immigrants brought to the country when they were children is approaching a deadline Sept. 5, and all eyes are on President Donald Trump, who is expected to make a decision Tuesday about the future of the program.
Ten states, all with Republican leadership, have threatened to sue if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program continues. Arizona is not among them, with the status of its 28,000 so-called "Dreamers" up in the air.
President Barack Obama launched DACA in June 2012. Since then, approximately 800,000 people have applied and been approved. In Arizona, there are about 28,000.
To qualify, DACA recipients have to meet certain requirements. Successful applicants came to the U.S. before turning 16, have lived in the country continuously since 2007, and have graduated from or are enrolled in high school, or served in the military, among other criteria. The program also requires a background check.
Recipients must reapply for the program every two years and are considered safe from deportation once DACA status is established.
On Arizona Week we speak to three DACA recipients, including a student at the University of Arizona and a student at Pima Community College.
President Trump has a choice to extend or eliminate the program, and previous conflicting statements on the issue haven't given a clear picture of how he will act. U.S. Congress may also take up the issue upon returning from recess.
Organizations and political leaders are urging Trump to keep protections for Dreamers. In a statement, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce referred to the economic aspect of the program.
“Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy. With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”
The chamber’s statement also says the U.S. economy stands to lose $460 billion in GDP and another $24 billion in social security and Medicare tax contributions.
Federal lawmakers return to the Capitol this week, among them Republican Rep. Martha McSally, who said she is committed to addressing DACA.
“We need a legislative solution. I’m co-sponsor on a bill. We’ve got to solve this issue, got to solve this problem. These kids, regardless of how you feel, these kids have come forward, served in military, education.”
Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva said DACA will need to be a top priority this week, adding that negotiation will likely happen, given the political scope of the budget and immigration.
“Anything that is done with DACA will have reverberations,” Grijalva said. “Waiting on this man in the White House … we’re preparing for the worst.”
DACA students in Arizona receive in-state tuition. For many, that means thousands of dollars saved on education costs. For now, it’s unclear if colleges and universities will make accommodations for students if the president chooses to eliminate the program.
On next week’s show, we’ll continue with an analysis of how the fight for, and against, protections for Dreamers plays out.