Column: Fighting for DACA

Hundreds of protesters march during a pro-DACA protest.

Photo credit: Angelica Gonzalez

Hundreds of protesters march during a pro-DACA protest. "It was heartwarming to see how many people care about an issue I am passionate about. We took it to the streets, and we were so loud. We wanted people to hear us,” Angelica Gonzalez '20 said.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump’s administration announced the rescindment of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA. This administrative relief was enacted under the Obama administration five years ago, and since has protected about 800,000 undocumented immigrants, often described as Dreamers, from deportation.

While adult undocumented immigrants came to the U.S. to provide better opportunities for their children, the young kids — the Dreamers — did not have a say in the matter. They were brought to the U.S. and grew up in the U.S. because of a decision their parents made.

The program allowed the Dreamers to obtain a driver’s license, a work permit and temporary protection from deportation. In order to be accepted, Dreamers had to meet certain criteria, including passing background checks, continuously living in the United States and arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16. When DACA was first issued, it gave relief to so many families by allowing the possibility of young people to get a proper education, join the workforce and be active in our economy.

Dreamers’ protections will end in six months; those who renew in time have 24 months, but no new applications will be accepted.

Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to end this program Sep. 5. Trump’s statement  described that “millions of Americans [were being] victimized by this unfair system” and that Obama made “an end-run around Congress and violating the core tenets that sustain our republic.” However, only hours later, Trump posted a tweet where he announced that he expects Congress to “legalize” DACA. 

This distressing cancellation drags these young immigrants back to a place of dark times, filled with fear and anxiety.

In the past five years, Dreamers have been raised side by side with U.S. citizens.  

In a Facebook post where Barack Obama responded to Trump’s decision, he stated, “They may not know a country besides ours.  They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college or a driver’s license.”

Obama granted immigrant children an environment where they did not have to be scared of immigration services being on the other side of the door. Immigrants could go to school and build their careers — a right every human being should have, in my opinion.

It changes many Latinos’ lives, and what hurts my people hurts me.”

Additionally, National Public Radio reports that “97 percent [of Dreamers] are in school or in the workforce, [five] percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle and 16 percent have purchased their first home,” proving that the Dreamers have left a positive mark on the United States. They also hugely contribute to our economy with their jobs, taxes and civic participation. The repeal of DACA may lead to some negative economic consequences, costing the U.S. $480 billion.

Although this recent event does not affect me directly, it has taken an emotional toll on me. When I first heard of the news, the only way I could describe the feeling was heartache and sorrow. People who I hold very close to my heart are proudly Dreamers and people I look up to. The fact that they can be taken from me is so scary. It changes many Latinos’ lives, and what hurts my people hurts me. They are constantly in dismay and uneasiness, over rights that should be granted to every human being. Everyone has the right to education, to live and prosper — and that inspired me to write this piece.

I am attempting to turn that sadness into motivation to take action, beginning with spreading awareness of this awful event and moving others to do the same. These Dreamers are U.S. citizens at heart and everyday people that may even live on your block. I encourage my Archer community to become educated on this event that should touch everyone’s hearts. Speak up and fight for what is right.