The Department of Homeland Security unveiled plans Tuesday to expand deportations of undocumented immigrants, but DACA — a federal program that provides protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children — will remain intact under President Trump’s administration.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allows some undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to work and study for two-year intervals while protected from deportation. DACA also allows students to receive in-state tuition at the University of Maryland. President Obama created the DACA program through an executive order in 2012.
The ProtectUMD student group coalition raised concerns about the future of DACA after Trump’s election, as Trump promised throughout his campaign to crack down on illegal immigration. As of fall 2016, there were 113 DACA students attending this university, as well as 20 students covered by Maryland’s DREAM Act.
The department’s plans prioritize undocumented immigrants convicted of any crime, in keeping with Trump’s campaign stances on the issue. Undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes topped the list for deportation during Obama’s administration.
The plans will also allow for expedited removals for any undocumented immigrant residing anywhere in the nation for less than two years. Previously, these immediate removals were only used for immigrants who had been apprehended within 100 miles of the border and had been in the country for no more than two weeks.
The department released its plans as “guidance documents.” These memos advise the department to begin the process of hiring 10,000 new immigration and customs officers, and set up a new office within Immigration and Customs Enforcement to aid the families of those killed by undocumented immigrants.
Jocelyn Nolasco, a sophomore government and politics major and social chair for PLUMAS, called Trump a “loose cannon,” stating that many undocumented students feel uncertain about the future. She said the group has received requests for escorts to class from undocumented students fearing punitive action.
“We’re supposed to be fearless leaders, but how can we do that when literally our government teaches us to be in fear?” Nolasco said, adding that she expects trust in police and undocumented student attendance at this university to decrease as a result of the new policies.
The documents also leave another Obama immigration program — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents — intact, although the courts have blocked the program.
Trump signed an executive order Jan. 25 to begin construction of a wall on the Mexico border, although the funding has not been allocated for such action. He has also issued orders increasing the ranks of border patrol forces and the number of immigration enforcement officials, as well as threatened to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants.
Last week, thousands across the nation protested during “A Day Without Immigrants,” when immigrants — documented and undocumented — skipped work or school in order to show they are an integral part of daily life. Several College Park area restaurants were closed as a result of the protest.