15 Sep

The Ethics of DACA

Posted by Obiora Nnamdi Anekwe

In recent news, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, has been under scrutiny by the Trump Administration. Illegal immigration and U.S. border security are two significant public policy issues that President Trump campaigned to refine during the presidential campaign last year. He promised stricter immigration policies and to build a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexican borders. The DACA program, which provides a level of amnesty to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, is under attack. The Trump Administration has decided to disband the program, allowing a six-month delay for current recipients, and requested that Congress pass a comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Many opponents to DACA contend that illegal immigrants, whether they are children or not, should not be given legal rights, such as health care. On the other hand, those who argue that DACA should not be rescinded contend that illegal immigrant children are minors and that they should not be held accountable for their parents’ decision to immigrate to America illegally. In observing the issue from an ethical perspective, I believe that the DACA program is not ideal. It does not fully address the core issue of illegal immigration into a sovereign nation. Illegal immigration is an issue of national security and safety. A sovereign nation cannot continue to survive if its borders are not secure. In particular, the nation’s public health is undoubtedly at risk due to a lack of medical care and health screenings for immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally.  

In order to resolve the challenges associated with illegal immigration, we should be willing to refine, re-assess, and re-constitute a new approach that will be sensitive to America’s border security while remaining humane to one of our most vulnerable populations-illegal immigrants. We must remember that America is a land of immigrants, founded as a nation which welcomed those who sought a land of greater opportunity. If the DACA program ends, the inevitable process of deporting non-citizen children is administratively impossible and plainly inhumane. Families would be fractured and the continuation of a sound and healthy family structure would be unsustainable.

By all accounts, the DACA program is centered on compassion and human rights for all, whether citizen or non-citizen. Therefore, I believe that the policy is ethically permissible based on the bioethical principal of justice. It is necessary to improve DACA until a more comprehensive immigration policy is passed into law. Rather than rescind the DACA program, we should seek to be more deliberate in establishing a pipeline to citizenship through symbiotic and thoughtful engagements with public health, education, and employment agencies to resolve the challenges ahead of us.