Empathizing with the Dreamers

Hashtag referring to DACA program, an executive order enacted to protect undocumented youth, which is now in jeopardy.

As of now, you’ve probably been familiarized with controversy surrounding the rescission of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Though there are many layers to this decision, I’d like to briefly touch on this issue, and what it might mean for the individuals who are no longer protected by DACA, aka the Dreamers.

 

What is DACA?

DACA is an executive order signed into effect in 2012 by then President Barack Obama, which granted temporary deportation relief to undocumented youth. The basis of this program was that although these children were brought to the U.S. illegally by their undocumented parents, they should still have the opportunity to study, and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

 

Why rescind it?

The original DACA program had substantial bipartisan support. However in 2014, President Obama proposed expanding DACA to include older undocumented immigrants. This did not have republican support, so much so, that a group of states sued the Obama Administration, ruling that the expansion would be unconstitutional.

Once Donald Trump came into office, his already divisive rhetoric related to immigration, fueled the fire for several states to want to repeal DACA completely. This leads us to September 2017, when the Trump Administration announced that it would begin the cancellation of DACA, with full nullification of its protections in six months if Congress does not pass a replacement.

 

What about the Dreamers?

DACA applications will no longer be accepted, and current Dreamers could lose their statuses as soon as March of 2018. As many as 800,000 young adults could be at risk for deportation.  Fear of the unknown, is palpable. This issue, is deeper than simple immigration policy. Language surrounding removal of DACA is riddled with ignorance about the systemic oppression of race, class, and gender. The majority of immigrants come to this country to escape violence and poverty, with the genuine hope of acquiring class mobility. They are often an asset to society. Instead, when it comes to DACA, the Dreamers are framed as criminals, job-stealers, and burdens on the economy.

I for one, can empathize with the Dreamers. They’re first generational, facing racial profiling, and still seeking opportunities to contribute to society. Now their opportunities are being stripped, their character demoralized, and their hope hangs on a thread. What must it be like to live in limbo, in constant uncertainty of a future that once was promised to you? Our nation has digressed with this decision, and its polarizing ramifications. I don’t claim to have the answers, but I can say one thing: rescinding DACA is a shameful act in our nation’s history, one that goes against the very core of what the U.S.A. claims to stand for. Equal opportunity, equal rights, The American Dream. . . but what about the Dreamers?

By Malki M. of Feminist JAMMS 

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