DACA plays a major role in people’s lives

By Annette Godwin
April 10, 2018

President Obama signing DACA. Photo from the Creative Commons.

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a new program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program was made to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were young children from deportation.

More than a 800,000 immigrants were given the opportunity to enjoy their lives in the U.S. while they were given a chance to get better homes, legal job opportunities and better educations.

Last fall, President Trump made a decision to end DACA. He announced that DACA would be rescinded in six months, ending on March 5, and hopefully be replaced with a permanent alternative; however, Trump would not approve an alternative for the Dreamers until other immigration issues were also address.

“Trump shouldn’t have taken it away. The hispanic population are the ones who [are] help[ed] out the most,” Jason Roman, a sophomore studying criminology at Cabrini university, said. “We take job offers that other Americans wouldn’t take, we work hard and pay taxes. We don’t get those taxes back. Some of the hispanic people don’t get taxes back because they don’t have papers. It’s really hard, honestly. Most of my family uses that program. They need it to work and go to Mexico without being stopped.”

All DACA benefits are provided on a two-year basis, so individuals who currently have DACA will be allowed to retain both DACA and their work authorizations until they expire. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will adjudicate, on an individual, case-by-case basis.

The DREAM Act, or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, has been stalemated in Congress for quite some time, which is why President Obama had attempted to address some of these issues through his executive order. It was designed to let people residing in the United States without documentation get their work authorizations, social security number and driver’s license. Only the DREAM Act as previously written would enable a green card to be obtained.

Many politicians and citizens believe the Dreamers should be accommodated because of their circumstances. Many Dreamers say they did not even know they were unauthorized immigrants until they were teenagers, when they discovered they could not join their peers in getting a driver’s license or filling out financial aid forms for college, because they did not have social security numbers.

Jose Rodriguez is Cabrini University’s student Director of Diversity Initiatives. Photo from Cabrini University.

“I think the DACA program was a very good initial program to address as well as help children born to undocumented members of our country. It is a way to bring these people to the forefront and help provide opportunities for them to become a more integral part of our society,” Jose Rodriguez, director of Student Diversity Initiatives, said.  “The more our society is able to assist those undocumented, the better and more inclusive our communities will be.

Rodriguez believes the current president should support Dreamers, not isolate them or revoke their protections.

“I strongly feel the president must truly seek ways to help make individuals feel welcomed not excluded or instill fear. Nothing good comes from such acts,” Rodriguez said.

Some in the Trump administration want to DACA because they feel if immigrants keep coming over to the United States, there may not be enough jobs for U.S. citizens.

“If this does come to pass where DACA is no longer available, I can only assume individuals who are undocumented will continue to feel threatened as well as fearful of this. This is a feeling I know some undocumented people felt during the last political presidential campaign and since the new president has been in office,” Rodriguez said.

“I believe that Congress should have stepped in and not allowed Trump to have that type of authority to separate these children at this point in time,”Robin Brook, a Juvenile Justice worker, said. “They have come into America and have been made citizens. Maybe not legal citizens, but this is all that they are aware of. Now they’re going to be tossed out of our country. What is the purpose behind it and why is it that he decided to do this at this point?”

“I think ending DACA is a tremendous mistake. I’m hoping they replace this with something better than DACA. That way,  at the end of this, it would result in something more positive,” Abel Rodríguez, the director of the Center on Immigration and an assistant professor of religion, law and social justice, said. “It would give folks who are on DACA and other people hopefully some path to permanent residency and to citizenship. DACA didn’t do that.”

Abel Rodríguez is the Director  of the Center on immigration and an assistant professor of religion, law and social justice assistant professor. Photo from Cabrini University.

The DREAM Act is proposed alternative to replace DACA. It is an American legislative proposal for a multi-phase process for qualifying immigrant minors in the United States. It would first grant conditional residency and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.

“At the end of the day, it’s just ruining a lot of people’s lives, especially mine with my family,” Ramon said. “The DACA program did help a lot of immigrants. It helped my family because they have working papers. They got to go to Mexico and come back. If it wasn’t for the DACA program, they wouldn’t be here with me right now. They probably would be deported and it sucks because the program is going to be gone I’m hoping that my family members don’t get deported,” Ramon said.

”It would permanently have significant impact on people who currently have DACA [protection]. They would then become vulnerable to deportation and  hundreds of thousands of people who were able to live their lives, work, go to school— will now have to live in fear of possible deportation from the country. It would certainly have a large impact on those people,” Rodríguez said.

“It’s also important to remember that in addition to the folks who are on DACA, it is estimated there are around 11 million people who are undocumented in the United States,” Rodríguez said. “I think it’s important not only to think about the folks who are losing DACA, which is incredibly important, but also not to forget the other people who are in the United States who are living their lives here and are also undocumented. I am hoping there will be advocacy done for some kind of comprehensive immigration reform that would take into account all immigrants in the United States and will treat all immigrants in the United States with the dignity they deserve.”

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Annette Godwin

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