Trump clearly misunderstands DACA

Shirah Lister

It’s been months since Trump announced that he would end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), yet his tweets show that he is still misinformed about the program. DACA doesn’t accept applicants who haven’t been living in the U.S. since 2007, so why does Trump keep claiming that people are entering the U.S. for it? Probably because he, like many other Americans, does not grasp what DACA actually entails.

“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!” Trump tweeted at 9:56 a.m. on April 1.

Once again, Trump’s Twitter rants have confused us all. He referenced a Fox News segment about 1,000 Central Americans who are heading, as a group, to the U.S. border. These Central Americans are seeking asylum from gang violence and poverty in their native countries. They have crossed immigration checkpoints, military bases, and police in their journey to the United States.

The caravan is organized by Pueblos Sin Fronteras, commonly known as “People Without Borders.” It is used to help migrants come to America, free from violence they may face traveling alone. Some members plan to request asylum or cross undetected, while others want to reunite with family already in the United States.

This group does not qualify for DACA protections.

So let’s recap. What is DACA? DACA is an immigration policy that allows people who come to the U.S. illegally to receive a two-year (renewable) period during which they become eligible for a work permit. DACA, unlike the DREAM Act, does not provide a way to gain citizenship and the program stopped accepting new applications in September. To qualify for DACA, Dreamers must have been in the U.S. since before 2007 and have been 15 years old or younger when they came. As it is no longer 2007, it’s safe to say that they aren’t here for DACA. Trump must not have realized this because he’s still on Twitter saying more people are coming for DACA.

But, to get people on his side, Trump has to do what many politicians do: lie. Trump is once again warping the truth to propel his party’s agenda. If the president of this country fails to understand, or at least acts as if he does not understand, an incredibly prominent policy, how can the rest of the government, let alone the citizens of the nation, be expected to be knowledgeable on the subject? A politician’s responsibility should be to educate and regulate policy, not belittle.

Trump’s inaccurate framing of immigrants is not the only thing impacting the nation’s view on immigration. The language used by media, politicians, in daily life also negatively influences that perception, specifically the term “alien.”  Though the denotation of “alien” does refer to a foreigner, common usage carries an acutely negative connotation. Painting immigrants as “aliens” only further separates them from the American norm and forces them to bear acts of hatred. Stigmatizing immigrants increases people’s fear of them. Using rare cases of immigrants committing crimes makes it seem as though they are worsening this country.

If there’s any possibility of changing the way the public views immigration, we need to be conscious of what we do, what we say, and what we absorb. Though seemingly small inaccuracies in speech and media may seem inconsequential, they still accumulate over time and solidify our notions of what immigration is. In terms of solving the bigger problem, it is paramount to consider the role of smaller actions as well.