Let's make deporting the Dreamers Trump's worst nightmare | Editorial

on November 27, 2016

Susana Terrones, 24, was only six months old when she came to the United States from Mexico and she's never gone back since. Terrones was one of about 750,000 youths without legal status who were given temporary protection from deportation and work permits under President Obama, after they came to the U.S. as children. These people are now under threat from a Donald Trump presidency.

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Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign by disparaging a very small minority -- undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
 
The 750,000 young immigrants known as "Dreamers" are not among them. They came here as children and "are, for all practical purposes, American kids," as President Obama said recently.
 
They've grown up with everyone else's kids, played on the same sports teams, sat in the same classrooms, been their play-dates and prom dates. They have work permits, Social Security cards, bank accounts and jobs. A UCLA study calculates that Dreamers will add $1.4 to $3.6 trillion in taxable income to our economy over the course of their careers.
 
Yet Trump has said he would "immediately terminate" the executive action that Obama signed four years ago to give the Dreamers protection from deportation.

There is plenty of reason to fear. Trump just selected as his attorney general Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of the biggest opponents of this executive order, and Trump advisor Kris Kobach once brought an unsuccessful lawsuit against it in Kansas.
 
The Dreamers are vulnerable because they trusted their government, turning over their names and addresses in 2012 to register for this program, get work permits and drivers' licenses. Now, with the stroke of a pen, the Trump administration could end it all, and use the same registry to deport them and their families.
 
He could authorize military-style roundups at universities like Rutgers, which has declared itself a "sanctuary campus," but would have no real power to stop federal agents with a warrant. And even if Trump forgoes the spectacle of dragging crying students out of classes, and simply ends the program and allows their work permits to expire, the consequences will still be ugly.
 
The Dreamers would no longer be shielded, and could be deported at any time. They would re-enter the pool of every other undocumented immigrant in the United States, getting paid under the table at the kinds of jobs that have nothing to do with what they're trained for.
 
The Obama administration said it would focus its deportations on people with the most serious criminal convictions. Trump should stick to that principle too, as he initially did in his campaign. It would not be a good way for him to begin his presidency, by alienating the many, many, many Americans who have connections with the Dreamers. And even if Trump decides to keep Obama's protection for Dreamers, why make their law-abiding parents a priority for deportation?
 
Civil rights groups, universities and city governments are already rallying to the defense of the Dreamers, and seeking out pro-bono lawyers to represent them. They are calling for a march from New York to Washington. They have enormously sympathetic stories. In the past four years, they've gone to college and medical school. They've served in the military and as emergency responders. About 150 have joined Teach for America.
 
If Trump's slogan is to "Make America Great Again," why target these young people who are working hard to do that, in their own communities?

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