Since the creation of the Declaration of Independence, establishing America as a sovereign country, immigrants have been drawn to U.S. shores. America remains a beacon of hope for all immigrants seeking a better life and monumental opportunities. While these endless possibilities benefit immigrants, the United States also benefits from their influence. For example, during the Great Depression and World War II, Mexican immigrants were encouraged to pursue occupations in U.S. agriculture because of the devastating amount of lives lost in the war. Without their help, the country would have lost substantial revenue (Browne, 2001). The current political climate of the United States emphasizes the lack of information regarding border security and the amount of illegal immigration actually occurring. However, border security is not so clear cut. The main measure of the effectiveness of border security is how many illegal immigrants successfully enter the U.S, how many attempt to illegally enter the U.S., and how much they are deterred. Contrary to public opinion, most experts conclude that illegal immigration has decreased in recent years (Roberts, 2017). In September of 2017, President Trump announced he was rescinding the Obama-era policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. After facing backlash for the decision, he reneged and instead urged Congress to legislate an alternative in the next six months or he would revisit the idea of rescinding the policy (Shear and Davis, 2017). DACA is an executive action by President Obama that granted two year work permits and pledged not to deport immigrants who came to the US illegally as children (Nguyen, 2017). The policy has just been renewed by the Department of Homeland Security and there has been no indication that the administration will revoke work permits or prevent people from applying for DACA (Quinn Law Firm, 2017). With the looming removal of DACA, the United States’ current immigration policies fail to protect immigrants, specifically those who contributing to the U.S. economy and those who had no choice in coming to America. Overview of US Immigration Policies and MisconceptionsCurrent Laws That Work for the US The immigration policies that work best for America are the ones that marry the interests of native-born citizens and immigrants searching for a better life. The United States allows foreigners to work and live here with lawful permanent residency. They can even remain in the US if they are unemployed. Immediate family of a citizen or lawful permanent resident is also allowed to remain in the country, promoting family unification. Temporary Protected Status can be given to those who cannot return to their home because of natural disasters, extraordinary temporary conditions, or ongoing armed conflict. Deferred Enforced Departure protects those living in the United States with unstable home countries; however, this is at the discretion of the executive branch unlike TPS (American Immigration Council, 2016). Current Laws That No Longer Work for the U.S. Although there are some immigration policies that work for the United States, there are many outdated or harmful policies that still exist. For example, undocumented immigrants cannot receive financial aid from the government. There are some scholarships and aid available at private institutions, but they have limited impact due to their incredibly high tuition fees. An inability to afford a secondary education, something essential to finding a career, prohibits undocumented students who have graduated high school to contribute to America’s economy. A study by RAND, a nonprofit global policy think tank, found that, compared to an immigrant without a highschool degree, an immigrant with a college degree will pay more taxes and cost the government less money (Gonzales, 2007). There are also a few bills in the process of becoming laws that are not beneficial for immigrants or American citizens, like the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act which passed in the House and is heading for the Senate Judiciary Committee. This law would allow the government to detain or deport illegal immigrants suspected of gang membership even if they have not been convicted or arrested for any crime (“GovTrack.us,” n.d.). If anyone in the U.S. is afforded basic rights, even illegal immigrants, then this law is simply unconstitutional. If this law is passed, the government could deport any illegal immigrant with no proof of any wrongdoing, only suspected wrongdoing. America’s current system, containing very few protections for those attempting to enter the U.S., allows for “coyotes”, or the people who are paid to take people across the border, to take advantage of those trying to enter. The journey is incredibly dangerous and strenuous; border patrol is often forced to rescue the ones who cannot finish the journey which costs the U.S. government large sums of money. Once they are across the border, they are smuggled in cars up north where the drivers hike up their prices once they arrive at their destination, rape the women, and rob the men (Browne, 2001). While the immigrants who are entering illegally are aware of the risks, the current laws are not benefitting nor protecting anyone.Misconceptions About Illegal Immigration Throughout America’s history, native-born citizens’ attitudes toward immigrants, have been negative. It is often assumed that immigrants will steal American jobs, the government’s money, or their place at a university; however, these beliefs are unfounded. 71% of Americans believe the presence of illegal immigrants increases crime (Miller, ed., 2006). Ruben Rumbaut, a professor at UC Irvine, says,The misperception that immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, are responsible for higher crime rates is deeply rooted in American public opinion and is sustained by media anecdotes and popular myth. This perception is not supported empirically. In fact, it is refuted by the preponderance of scientific evidence. (2011)Although illegal immigration has increased, especially in border states, crime rates have decreased. In fact, the likelihood a native-born male citizen will be imprisoned is five times higher than a foreign-born male (Barry, 2011). Many politicians are elected to public office by taking advantage of everyday Americans’ fear, even when these fears have no factual basis, like the fear of immigrants stealing US jobs. The amount of immigrants in the American labor force has tripled from 1970 to 2005, while the amount of native-born citizens in the workforce has been declining due to a lower birth rate. It is projected that the American labor force growth will be entirely due to immigrants in the next twenty years. While this does prove immigrants are a major part of the workforce, it refutes the idea that they are “stealing” American jobs; they are simply filling in the gaps (Gonzales, 2007). These immigrants, especially current DACA recipients, are also not just doing the jobs Americans do not want to do, though Brookings Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown says undocumented immigrants do tend to work more physically demanding and unpleasant jobs. Compared to the 28% of immigrants who arrived before 2011 who had a college degree, now 48% of immigrants who arrived after 2011 have a college degree. Also, a fourth of entrepreneurs and a fourth of investors in America are immigrants, with almost half of new firms hiring at least one immigrant to be in a leadership position (Hoban, 2017). In response to the fear that immigrants are stealing American students’ places in universities, legislation that allows undocumented immigrants who go to public schools to qualify for in-state tuition, has increased school revenue instead of draining the educational system and has not resulted in a major influx of new students. The legislation only affects a minority of immigrants who can afford college without financial aid, but it still provides more money to the school (Gonzales, 2012). While the majority of Americans who believe granting illegal immigrants citizenship will result in more undocumented workers are correct in their assumption (Miller, ed., 2006), they are ignoring the countless benefits of immigration and are fueled only by their unfounded fears. The Situation Surrounding DACA President Trump and his administration announced in September 2017 the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program would end in six months if Congress does not legislate an alternative. DACA was created in 2012 by President Barack Obama through executive order. The program permits children who were brought to the United States illegally before the age of 16 to avoid deportation and remain in the country. They had to be under 31 years old in 2012 and had lived in the country since June 15 with no criminal record. They also must be enrolled in school or the military. DACA recipients can renew their status every two years. Currently, 800,000 people receive DACA privileges so the program is widely used. The program was created because Congress could not find the common ground necessary to pass legislation to protect children brought illegally by their parents. Trump’s decision to place the burden once again on Congress to pass an alternative into law makes it almost certain the DACA program will end because of Congress’ inability to act on the issue (Gonzales, 2017). Republican Senators Thom Tillis, James Lankford, and Orrin Hatch proposed the Succeed Act in place of DACA. The bill is meant to provide people currently using DACA with a way to obtain citizenship. It has received positive reception from the White House, with an endorsement from Trump. The path to citizenship is narrower and more complicated, contrary to the DREAM Act, which cannot seem to be passed. The bill includes a total of 15 years to apply for citizenship, requires numerous background checks, expands the categories of crimes that would make someone ineligible for permanent residence status, refers to a process of “extreme vetting,” would ensure Dreamers could not sponsor other family to come into the US until they obtain citizenship, and prevents “chain migration.” This bill seems to be the conservative approach to the DACA issue while the DREAM Act is the liberal approach. The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001, but was introduced in 2017 with a new provision. The bill would provide permanent resident to status to immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children by their parents. They must have lived continuously in America for the last four years and were 17 or younger when they arrived in the US, have never been convicted of any federal or state offense punishable by more than one year imprisonment, and be going to college, graduated from high school, or enrolled in secondary school or a program that assists students in getting a GED or diploma. Unfortunately, the DREAM Act has yet to be passed (Nguyen, 2017). Arguments Against Reforming Immigration Policy While a majority of Americans believe immigration policy should be reformed, there is a small group of people who believe the system works the way it is supposed to and the DACA program should be discontinued. The Republicans in Congress specifically have little to no interest in attempting comprehensive immigration reform as it does not tend to benefit them in anyway. (Council on Foreign Relations, n.d.). Also, President Trump has poisoned the immigration debate by promoting racist and incorrect ideas about illegal immigrants, which in turn makes it harder for Congress to truly consider reforming immigration policy. Whenever the idea of reform is brought up, the debate becomes more about the morals of immigrants rather than how much they do for America. Most likely, in order for legislation to be passed replacing DACA, conservatives will call for more border security and fewer benefits for anyone who came to the United States illegally (S. Yale-Loehr, Personal communication, November 1, 2017). Furthermore, any massive overhaul of immigration policies will result in mistrust from American citizens. In an interview with the New York Times, Marco Rubio learned from trying to push major immigration reform that U.S. citizens distrust any substantial policy change from the government which means most Republicans will advocate for smaller policy changes that build up over time. To delay the implementation of comprehensive reform, Republicans tend to argue the need to secure the borders first; however, the discussion rarely goes deeper into what their definition of “secure” is (Waldman, 2014). Arguments for Reforming Immigration PolicyCourt Cases DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, implemented in 2012, was created to protect the children of illegal immigrants, who came to the United States before their 16th birthday, from deportation. In 2014, a similar program was implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, DAPA, that was meant to protect the parents of citizens and permanent legal residents from deportation. Texas, among other states, sued the Obama administration, claiming that DAPA violated the Administrative Procedure Act and that it was “arbitrary and capricious.” Their argument was that the program could not be implemented because the Department of Homeland Security did not engage in the public process called “notice and comment.” The use of “public comment” is meant to allow the public to have a say in decisions the government makes. The APA requires agencies to provide ways for public participation in the rulemaking process. Texas also argued that DAPA violated the Take Care Clause of the Constitution which states that the President’s job is to enforce the law. The US Court of Appeals ruled that Texas had standing because first, the implementation of DAPA would financially impact Texas, and second, the order violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The Obama Administration appealed and the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. They tied four to four and eventually made the decision to hold the lower court’s decision. DACA was implemented without violating the Administrative Procedure Act and, since it was implemented in 2012, states have already adjusted to the extra costs of issuing more licenses and other things. The courts did not affirm the argument that DAPA violated the Take Care Clause of the Constitution. One argument for DACA’s unconstitutionality is that it is out of the President’s realm of authority, but no court has ever confirmed this including the Supreme Court (United States v. Texas). In Plyler v. Doe, the question was asked whether the revised Texas law that allowed the state to withhold funding from school districts that educate illegal immigrants violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court decided that although illegal immigrants and their children aren’t citizens of the US, they are still people and are afforded the protection the Fourteenth Amendment provides. They determined that this violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it gave children of illegal aliens a severe disadvantage and Texas could not prove that the law served a “compelling state interest.” The Equal Protection Clause “provides that no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In this case, an illegal alien is still considered a “person within America’s jurisdiction.” The statute also violates the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The statute causes lifetime hardship for children of illegal immigrants, who had no influence over their parents’ actions, by withholding their education (Plyler v. Doe). This case maintains that illegal aliens are protected by the Constitution, and their children are entitled to the right to an education. The logic used to defend both of these ideas can be applied to the defense of DACA. Trump is facing five lawsuits after only three weeks since Jeff Sessions’ announcement about ending DACA. The policy is being defended in one lawsuit by 15 states, including Virginia and DC. These states claim rescinding DACA would violate the Fifth Amendment and the Administrative Procedures Act. It also alleges that rescinding DACA was just one example of Trump’s racist comments about immigrants coming to fruition. New York’s attorney general states that it would cost “hundreds of thousands of the States’ residents, injure State-run colleges and universities, upset the States’ workplaces, damage the States’ economies, hurt State-based companies, and disrupt the States’ statutory and regulatory interests.” Another lawsuit is being filed by the University of California, directed toward the Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. The suit alleges the decision violates the rights of the school and its students because the school would lose vital students and community members since over 4000 of their students are illegal immigrants. They also allege the decision violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. A third case is being filed by attorney generals in California, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. It claims the decision violates the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the public wasn’t given proper notice before the announcement. NAACP is also taking legal action by suing President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and DHS for “unlawfully reneging on their promise to protect young, undocumented immigrants of color living in the United States.” Six DACA recipients are suing for the Northern District of Columbia, labeling the decision to end DACA as a “broken promise.” Trump believes phasing out DACA will allow Congress time to write new legislation regarding Dreamers; however, a group of conservative state attorney generals threatened Trump with a lawsuit if DACA was not rescinded by September 5 (Giaritelli, 2017). Problems Within the System One of the many problems within America’s immigration system is the complexity of becoming a citizen. Many believe it is easy to immigrate to the United States; however, immigration law is incredibly complex, second only to tax law. It also has not been changed since 1990, while the world has changed dramatically. Furthermore, green cards are often conflated with citizenship, but the reality is a green card comes first then citizenry. It is incredibly difficult to apply for naturalization. An applicant needs good moral character, must read, write, and speak basic English, must have been a permanent resident for over five years, and the list goes on. It is easy to see why desperate parents would bring their children here illegally to give them a better life as soon as possible. The years that would be spent waiting for citizenship are formative for a young child. Although many conservatives believe those who acted illegally should not be rewarded, they are misinformed. About half of immigrants entered the United States legally and over-stayed, rather than entering illegally and not contributing to America. There is no way the United States has the financial resources to deport all 11 million people using DACA and without it, employers can take advantage immigrants. If employers had knowledge of an immigrant’s illegal status, they could force them to work for lower pay using the threat of deportation. Finally, the notion that illegal immigrants are a burden, specifically on border states, is false. A comparison would be someone from Virginia moving to California. California would never deem this person a “burden” since they would be contributing to their economy and well-being. Illegal immigrants would be doing the same (S. Yale-Loehr, Personal communication, November 1, 2017). Solution Due to the lack of factual and unbiased discussion about immigration policy and DACA, Congress most likely will not act. With Republicans, who rarely pursue immigration reform, currently dominating the executive and legislative branch, it will be almost impossible to obtain bipartisan compromise like passing the Dream Act. However, in the next four years, everyday Americans can help to bring about or speed up the process. First, there must be more careful discussion about immigration. The amount of false information and prejudice seeping into the immigration debate is part of the reason it is hard for Congress to agree. Facts and statistics need a place in this debate rather than biased opinions. Second, protests need to be started from the ground up, forcing Congress to act. The protests must demand Congress to make the process of obtaining citizenship less difficult and to legislate an alternative to DACA. Third, any state laws promoting anti-immigration and discrimination must be challenged in court (S. Yale-Loehr, Personal communication, November 1, 2017). Fourth, border security must be honestly and deeply assessed and treated as an important responsibility. Then the data gathered from this assessment needs to be used to find solutions to the many problems existing at the border between Mexico and America (Roberts, 2017). If Congress refuses to act, the American people must take it upon themselves to defend the rights of immigrants, especially DACA recipients who had no choice in coming to the U.S. and contribute greatly to America’s economy and well-being. Conclusion The U.S. immigration policy debate continues to be dominated by misconceptions about illegal immigrants and a lack of facts and statistics regarding the effects of immigration on the lives of American citizens. This, in turn, contributes to Congress’ inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform and an alternative for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy established through executive order under the Obama administration. While there are some who believe U.S. immigration policy works well as it exists now, research overwhelmingly supports the notion that it does not. Current policies promote anti-immigrant sentiments by encouraging deportation, do not protect those who have entered illegally and are taken advantage of by their drivers, and do not reward the immigrants who are contributing to America’s economic and social well-being. Furthermore, the Trump administration’s decision to slowly wind down the DACA program punishes hard-working immigrants whose only home is America. These immigrants were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents and grew up knowing only this country. They deserve the right to pursue a secondary education with the help of financial aid, have a well-paying job, and contribute to the society in which they were raised in any way they choose. However, simply reinstating the policy of DACA is not enough. An alternative must be legislated that grants them the rights they deserve. Dreamers should not be punished for their parents’ actions. To achieve this, American citizens must be vigilant. The only way to force Congress to act and protect immigrants is through litigation, protest, and factual, unbiased discussion.