Blog Post

Rescinding DACA was Not about Immigration Reform

Melissa Franqui and Eunisses Hernandez
Immigration protest

Since the election, time and time again, Trump and members of his administration have touted “law and order” rhetoric, to advance an agenda that aims to expand criminalizationdeportations and promote white supremacy.

While many of the public was still reeling from the shocking news of the presidential pardon of America’s most notorious Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, infamous for his self-described “concentration camps” and illegal persecution of Latino residents, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this week that the Trump Administration will rescind DACA,  or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is a program allowing young people without documentation who were brought to the United States as children to live, learn, work, and contribute to the communities they call home. A bi-partisan consensus agrees that DACA has strengthened our nation, enabling the full participation of nearly 800,000 talented young “Dreamers” around the country.

In a speech full of false, racist, and nativist claims about DACA recipients, the Attorney General made good on Trump’s campaign promise to enact mass deportations by pen and by force, including by repealing any amnesty programs for immigrants.

We’ve long seen officials use similar language to defend the abusive and inhumane tactics of the war on drugs. The Trump administration is now broadening its use to justify policies—like mandating that local law enforcement provide ICE with arrest records of non-citizens for minor offenses, like marijuana possession, and now repealing DACA—that will make it easier to persecute immigrants.

Although often portrayed in the media as an issue that affects only Latinos, our friends at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration remind us that DACA provided support to many communities, “BAJI stands with the millions of young undocumented immigrants whose lives are on the line, including those protected under DACA. Until dignity, justice, and human rights protections can be afforded all oppressed communities in the U.S., we remain undeterred and emboldened in in our fight against this administration’s racist and xenophobic policies.”

For decades, the war on drugs has served to systematically eliminate communities of color from political, social, and economic spaces in society. Today, we see a continuation of that political agenda directly though such actions such as calling on federal prosecutors to seek the maximum punishment for drug offenses and through new means such as the elimination of DACA. The war on drugs has long been used as a rationale to profile, arrest, incarcerate, prosecute and deport people of color.  Eliminating DACA in effect represents a war on drugs 2.0, one that is specifically directed at immigrants and closely tied to the mass criminalization of communities of color we see today across this country.

Because of these grave consequences, advocates for drug policy reform and defenders of immigrant rights have teamed up to demand humane reforms to both drug and immigration policies. Central to our demands is that no one be arrested, incarcerated or deported for merely using or possessing drugs.

Such steps are critical for dismantling the war on drugs and ending the war on immigrants – a fight that is, in many ways, one and the same. To learn more on how to support the 800,000 Dreamers impacted by this cruel policy reversal, go to the United We Dream website and take action.

Melissa Franqui is the manager of communications and marketing for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Eunisses Hernandez is a policy coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Photo via Trevor Stone / Wikipedia.

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