Thu | Mar 30, 2023

Uncertain future for Jamaican Dreamers in US

Published:Thursday | July 30, 2020 | 12:20 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

Three thousand Jamaicans who are beneficiaries of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have again found themselves in uncertain waters after the Trump administration issued a new memo, seeking to end the programme within a year.

The Jamaican Dreamers had breathed a sigh of relief after the United States Supreme Court ruled last month that the White House could not end the programme, which was instituted by executive order by President Barack Obama eight years ago.

In a 5 to 4 decision handed down then, the Supreme Court called the decision to end the programme an “arbitrary” and “capricious” violation of the law.

However, the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued a new memo, advising that people currently under the programme would have their application renewed for one year and not the customary two while the department undertakes a review of the programme. Left unsaid is how long would be the review period.

The memo also advised that no new DACA applications would be accepted. Consequently, new applicants have seen their submissions rejected by Homeland Security although a federal judge had ruled that the administration must accept new applications.

Administration officials have said that the new move is an interim action.

DACA allows children who were brought to the United States by the parents before the age of 11 to stay in the country without fear of deportation. They have been granted social security numbers and allowed to attend school and work. Many have gone on to carve out a permanent life in the United States.

It is projected that some 90 per cent of DACA recipients have jobs, with 45 per cent of them in school.


In a statement reacting to the new memo, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke issued a statement condemning the decision not to accept new applications and to only renew requests for one year.

“Attacking DACA recipients is the latest move of an unpopular president facing electoral defeat. In an attempt to excite voters who relate to his pattern of xenophobia and racism, he has issued this policy as a cheap dog-whistle. DACA recipients are Americans, plain and simple,” the congresswoman said.

Ms Clarke said that after the Supreme Court ruled that the previous attempt to terminate DACA could not proceed, the administration has cobbled together a new plan to make the lives of young immigrants more difficult.

“Donald Trump campaigned on ending DACA, and this decision should serve as proof that he is willing to use even the smallest authorisation of his power to end this programme,” she said.

Jamaica’s Northeast Global Diaspora Council member, Dr Karren Dunkley, said that Jamaican DACA recipients need a clear path to citizenship to end the uncertainty.

“Jamaican DACA recipients are valued members of our community who are integral to the shared vision of prosperity that many immigrants seek in the United States. The Jamaica Diaspora Northeast, USA, remains committed to leveraging resources to provide immigration consultations and advocacy on behalf of the recipients and their families,” said Dunkley.