APA Calls on President to Preserve "Dreamers" Program

Urges him to consider impact on immigrants, families

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association called on President Trump today to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, noting that ending it would break up families and derail many young immigrants’ chances for a quality education and future.

“As psychologists, we are committed to policies that keep families together,” said APA President Antonio E. Puente, PhD. “Psychological research shows that the combined experiences of exposure to violence and displacement from home countries at an early age can have long-lasting negative consequences for cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. We do not believe that it is safe or ethical to send young immigrants back to dangerous conditions that they or their parents fled.”

The DACA program protects certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, temporarily providing them the authorization to work and study in the United States. To qualify for the program, the individuals must have arrived in the United States as children. State attorneys general from Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia have given Trump until Sept. 5 to end DACA or they claim they will file a court challenge to the program.

APA has a longstanding commitment to support immigrant children and families. It issued a Resolution on Immigrant Children, Youth and Families in 1998 recognizing that immigrants to the United States experience unique stresses, prejudice and poverty and can be considered at-risk populations for health, emotional and behavioral problems.

“These young people — many of whom refer to themselves as ‘dreamers’ — have complied with the DACA program's requirements regarding educational attainment and/or military service,” said Puente. “We, in turn, need to keep our commitment to provide a safe haven to them.”

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.