Accusations that Congress is out of step with public opinion are as old as the United States itself, but no place does the accusation seem as accurate as when it comes to DACA, the so-called “Dreamers” program. The program has broad support among the public, but still faces problems in the courts and in the Congress.
DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — turns 11 years old this week, providing work permits and protection from deportation for “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. without documentation as children and have grown up in America.
DACA was initiated under President Barack Obama in 2012 and his former VP, current President Joe Biden, has sought to protect the DACA protections, despite Congress’s reluctance to codify the program.
Obama and Biden are working together again on social media to promote and celebrate DACA on the anniversary of the program. Obama shared Biden’s message with his 132 million followers, in which Biden professed: “I celebrate the Dreamers who enrich our nation every day, and who deserve lasting stability in the only home they have ever known.”
Today, on the 11th Anniversary of DACA, I celebrate the Dreamers who enrich our nation every day, and who deserve lasting stability in the only home they have ever known.— President Biden (@POTUS) June 15, 2023
Dreamers are Americans — and I want them to know they have an advocate and ally with me in the White House.
Obama, who treats DACA as one of his signature accomplishments, also wrote his own message on social media to mark the anniversary, saying:
“DACA recipients are teachers, service members, business owners, doctors, and parents. They are our friends and neighbors. We are a better nation—a stronger nation—because they’re here.”
DACA recipients are teachers, service members, business owners, doctors, and parents. They are our friends and neighbors. We are a better nation—a stronger nation—because they’re here.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 15, 2023
As we mark the 11th anniversary of DACA, let’s continue to organize and push Congress to build…
The DACA program needs its advocates if it is to survive, as it has come under increasing political pressure. The U.S.-Mexico border problems and mass migration into the U.S. is an enormous political wedge issue, and DACA is too closely associated with the ongoing illegal border crossings for most GOP candidates to publicly support measures to sustain it, which they see as incentives to break the law.
Campaigning to shut the border entirely doesn’t mix well with granting asylum to those who have traversed it illegally — even if they were children when it happened.
Here again Congress, with its resistance, may be out of step with the public. DACA enjoys broad support in polls across the board — more than half of Republicans surveyed supported the DACA program as recently as 2020, but that was pre-Biden, when the Trump-run border was a less valuable political wedge for conservatives.
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, “As of December 31, 2022, there were roughly 580,000 active DACA recipients from close to 200 different countries of birth residing all over the U.S. While individuals with DACA status can be authorized to work, they remain ineligible for many federal programs, including health coverage through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance Marketplaces.”