story by Carlos Molina
It is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
In short, it was a program for illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year window of deferred action of deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
This program, which was passed in June 2012 by the Barack Obama administration, protected over one million children from being deported after they were brought to the United States illegally with their parents. Those children, nicknamed “Dreamers”, were eligible for work permits and the chance to learn (and succeed) in this nation.
Fast forward five years, and major changes are on the horizon for the program.
On Sept. 5, 2017, the Donald Trump administration ordered the Department of Homeland Security to stop processing new applications, all but halting the program. In addition, Trump has since given Congress six months to come up with an idea for those children, or they will face deportation.
In a statement made by General Attorney Jeff Sessions, he used controversial language calling these children “illegal aliens,” saying they have “victimized millions of American citizens with this unfair system.”
These words have offended many DACA recipients, including students at Jeffersonville High School. Senior Mayra Hielo-Venzor is a “Dreamer” and the program has allowed her to live life as a normal American teen until recent events.
“We call ourselves ‘Dreamers’ because that is what we are — we dream of having an opportunity in America,” Venzor said. “(DACA) was policy that enabled immigrants to study, have a job and simply be able to feel safe here. I say ‘was’ because that has now been taken away from us.”
With the end of the program, the impact will not only affect over 800,000 Dreamers nationwide, but could also hurt the United States’ economy if they are sent away.
“Many argue that DACA is unconstitutional, that we can’t just come to a country, and demand things. We were children and teenagers who came with family members,” Venzor said. “We didn’t do anything criminal. Instead, we went through background checks and biometrics. Now we contribute over billions of dollars to the economy.”
Even American citizens, like senior Adrian Blair, don’t see eye-to-eye with DACA’s removal.
“We, as Americans, should welcome those who wish to live and thrive in our great country,” Blair said. “Illegal citizens come to our country to have a better life. We should not make it hard for them because they are a different color, or come from a different lifestyle.”
The new order could also impact those currently enrolled in college, as well as others contributing to the work force. Children brought at young ages remember either little or nothing from their parent’s country.
”I believe that DACA should not be rescinded because it could potentially be detrimental to participating individuals and families, as well as to the United States,” said foreign language department chair Jenna Felix. “They are contributing to this country in a very positive way. Without DACA, they would not be able to make these contributions.
“This country was built by immigrants,” Felix continued. “DACA recipients are, by definition, immigrants who arrived as children, therefore, the United States is their country and their home.”
In the upcoming months, Congress will have their hands full with creating a solution for the “Dreamers.” If not, millions of people could be forced to leave a place they’ve called home for their entire lives.
“We have the same dream as any American, only difference is that they have the resources and we do not,” Venzor said. “We are your neighbors, your doctors, your teachers, your military. We are your Dreamers.”
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