Immigration and Island Dreamers: Hawai‘i and DACA

Sep 8, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

This week, the Trump Administration announced it will end the program allowing children brought to the United States illegally to stay here. The program is called “DACA”—and its cancellation could cost Hawai‘i more than half a billion dollars. This week, Pacific Business News takes a look what the end of DACA could mean in the islands. PBN Managing Editor Janis Magin has more.  

President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by an executive order in 2012. President Trump ordered a repeal of the program but is giving Congress six months to work things out.

Hawaii has about 600 people who’ve applied for DACA — nationally there are some 800,000. They’re typically young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children, before age 16.

The Cato Institute estimates that ending the DACA program will have a total economic cost in Hawaii of 577.5 million dollars over the next 10 years, starting next year.

Honolulu immigration attorney Clare Hanuz tells PBN that those people, now in their mid-20s, work in a variety of industries in the Islands.

Hanuz says that because these people are integrated into the business community — the impact won’t be seen until they’re forced to leave the U.S.

At the University of Hawaii, undocumented students can qualify for in-state tuition under a policy that includes, but isn’t limited to, students who’ve applied for DACA.

UH President David Lassner says he supports DACA and is joining with other college and university presidents to urge Congress to extend the program. Hawaii’s congressional delegation has also said they support keeping the DACA program.

Meanwhile, Hawaii has joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in a lawsuit seeking to block the DACA recision.