Concern about President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has focused in large part on how seriously it would affect the U.S. economy and the futures of DACA recipients (Dreamers) and their families. What’s been overshadowed is the grave danger that many of the nearly 700,000 Dreamers from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and many parts of Mexico would face if the U.S. government were to deport them.
Day-to-day life for millions of people in these countries is defined by violent gangs, drug traffickers, and corrupt police and government officials. Gender-based violence and discrimination and persecution against members of the LGBTI community are rampant. Navigating these hazards requires skills and understanding that the majority of Dreamers could not possibly possess, having left their countries at young ages and having been away for so long. Knowing the “do’s and don’ts” is critical to survival in these countries; lacking that awareness, Dreamers would be particularly vulnerable to predators and victimization.
Generally speaking, Dreamers would be immediately recognized wherever they settled. They’d be at predictably high risk of extortion, with death the punishment for being unwilling or unable to pay; of kidnapping, with their families then facing exorbitant ransom demands that many could not conceivably meet; of being coerced to join gangs and drug-trafficking organizations under threat of torture and death; of sexual predation, including sexual slavery and forced involvement in the commercial sex industry; of violence based on sexual orientation; and of psychological, physical, sexual, and financial abuse in the labor market.