President Trump has ordered an end to the program for young immigrants called DACA, or “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” The cancellation of that program is likely to impact several thousand young people who are students or are working in Kentucky.
In the Sept. 5 announcement to end DACA, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said there would be an orderly process of “winding down” former President Obama’s executive order that created the program protecting young immigrants from deportation. That “winding down” could affect thousands of people in Kentucky.
Michelle Mittelstadt is a spokeswoman for the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. that studies immigration issues.
“Looking at data from the federal government, slightly more than 3,000 people have received DACA in Kentucky,” said Mittelstadt.
She said those who received the deferred action are only about one-third of the 9,000 people in Kentucky who have been eligible for DACA status.
She said some have likely not applied for DACA because of fear of providing detailed identification information to the U.S. government. With the changes in the DACA program, the future of those 9,000 young immigrants in Kentucky is unknown.
Mittelstadt said the Migration Policy Institute has done research on those eligible for DACA and how they’re doing in the U.S.
“What you’re finding is that the DACA eligible population has progressed into white collar jobs with work authorization and with higher degrees of education," Mittelstadt said. "And this progress in the labor force will be stalled, and in many cases reversed, with the end of this program.”
It’s too soon to tell how the changes in DACA will affect those in Kentucky, a state struggling to fill thousands of vacant jobs.
The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce recently released a report that there are nearly 6,000 unfilled positions in a 10-county region.
A march in support of DACA is scheduled on the Western Kentucky University campus on Sept. 5 beginning at 3:30 p.m. time. The marchers are planning to walk from Cherry Hall to the Bowling Green office of Senator Rand Paul.