The Trump administration's decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), fails to fit into a broader policy platform, says a Virginia Tech expert whose recent research focuses on critiques of immigration and border policies.

“DACA recipients are being used as political fodder for a troubled political party, and as leverage by key figures in executive agencies,” Virginia Tech’s Christian Matheis says. “Despite attempts to frame DACA status as a weak point in immigration law and agency practices, the policy offers relatively clear directives, poses no obvious economic or financial hardships to the nation, and likely helps reduce security threats in the long-term by allowing a pathway for temporary documentation.”

Quoting Matheis

“The erosion of DACA status follows other prior attempts to dismantle citizenship as we've known it, and it may foreshadow attempts to create a caste system of different citizenship classifications, such as providing only certain land-owners of a particular racial group with rights to vote. This runs against a fundamental tenet of universal suffrage.”

“If we allow any political party or individual actor to turn DACA status into a short-term, ideological gain for a few embattled figures, we shift the burdens onto vulnerable populations and, eventually, to the broad majority of people in the country and elsewhere.”

“What many people may not realize is that the estimated 800,000 DACA status holders have demonstrated more careful attention to the terms of citizenship, more rigorous adherence to law and respect for policy, than the millions of people who obtain citizenship simply by the unearned accident of being born here. Our federal government gave them legalized status in good faith, they have responded in good faith, and now it is indefensible for the federal government to suddenly react in bad faith, and for no principled or pragmatic reasons.”

About Matheis

Matheis is the director of the Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives at Virginia Tech’s Graduate School. He specializes in topics that bridge social and political philosophy with public policy. Read his full bio here.

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