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Worldview

‘Dreamers’ Face Uncertain Future After Trump's DACA Decision

The Trump administration announced Tuesday it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — that gives legal protections to about 800,000 people who entered the country illegally as children. 

To discuss what’s next for DACA recipients and Congress, Worldview host Jerome McDonnell talked with Oscar Chacón, co‐founder and executive director of Alianza Americas, and Susan Gzesh, executive director of the University of Chicago’s Pozen Family Center for Human Rights. Below are highlights from their conversation.

DACA recipients could be deported as early as March

Susan Gzesh: Online now is the actual memo from the Department of Homeland Security that basically lays out the details of what’s going to happen. The basic lesson from that is everyone who has DACA right now will have another six months as a breather. 

We’re hoping that the approximately 45,000 DACA recipients in Illinois join with the business community, the religious community, labor unions, and community organizations and really push to get either an extension of DACA or to get Congress to act.

What this means for Congress

Oscar Chacón: I believe the decision announced officially today is intended to actually put things in motion that should lead to some sort of compromise on the part of the Congress. I think that what the White House or somebody like [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions envisions is using the desire to keep 'dreamers' protected — those who have received protection under DACA — with an array of other demands that they have had along the lines of what are contained in the so-called Raise Act. … So it’s important that if there is going to be some sort of compromise, it should be solely on the basis of fixing the reality of the people who are DACA recipients.

Gzesh: I think [the administration] wanted to pass the buck to Congress. They wanted to be able to say that President Trump was fulfilling a campaign promise, and then slough it off to another part of the government. Now it’s true that under our constitutional system any decision to grant permanent status has to be made by Congress, but the executive has always had the authority — and President Obama chose to exercise it to decide who among an estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented people in the United States might or might not be the focus of enforcement.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Click the “play” button to hear the entire segment, which was produced by Steve Bynum. Web story written by Justin Bull.

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