Growing up in the United States, you have been raised listening to the tunes of Taylor Swift and Panic! At The Disco, eating hamburgers and fries, and donuts with coffee. Ever since you can remember, you have worked and studied at school for the opportunity to attend college, and have had the liberty of deciding your own future. You have been raised to recite the Pledge of Allegiance word for word, to sing the Star Spangled Banner in perfect pitch. America is the only home you know, but one day, you are stripped of your right to stay. You are forced to give up your education, your friends, and your life in the United States to restart in a country where you have nothing – a country you know nothing of.
This is currently the situation of many Hispanic youth in America living under the DACA program. They were brought to America illegally by their parents at a young age and DACA protects their right to stay in the United States to study and work for an extended period of time. The DACA act protects these youth and gives them time to complete their education and gather work experience before their deportation. However, on September 5th, President Trump repealed the DACA act, and the mass deportations of immigrant youth began.
DACA: A Short Summary
The DACA act, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, is a program that the Obama administration founded to protect illegal immigrants whose parents brought them into the U.S. It targets immigrants under the age of 16 who have continuously lived in the United States since June 15, 2007 and are enrolled in a school, college, or are in the military. In addition, the DACA receiver had to have been under the age of 31 when the program officially began in 2012. It is a program that requires an application, proof of attendance at a school or college, and a clean criminal record. DACA recipients are formally known as the DREAMers. DREAMers are allowed to obtain work permits, attend school, and keep driver licenses by legal permission of the act.
In the United States, there have been around 800,000 DREAMers since the program began in Obama’s presidency. More than half of the DACA recipients are from Latin American countries, with 78% from Mexico, and the rest from Asia. DREAMers live scattered across the country. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that a high concentration gather in California. 28.3% of the DREAMers live in California, or approximately 222,795 youth, followed by a 15.8% concentration in Texas, about 124,300 youth, and the rest take up residence in various states of the country.
DREAMers: Students, Teachers, Workers
The 800,000 DREAMers protected by DACA are young people who are all achieving great feats, creating jobs, and making America a better country to live in. Among those is Saba Nafees who emigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan at the age of 11. As a DACA recipient, she grew up in Texas and is currently pursuing a Ph.D at Texas Tech University. In an FWD.us article, she states, “If DACA is repealed, I would be out of a job immediately and I won’t be able to teach my students. I won’t be able to continue conducting the research that I’m conducting right now. This research could help scientists understand diseases like cancer and lead down a path towards a cure. Without DACA, I can’t continue this critical work.” Saba is only one of 800,000 DREAMers living in the U.S., using DACA to revolutionize medicine, contribute to society, and change the world. By repealing DACA, nearly a million students, workers, and teachers, many like Saba, will lose the progress that they have made towards improving the economy, public care, or any other projects they are working on to help make America a better place to live in for all of us.
Trump’s Decision to Repeal
Early in his campaign for presidency, Trump had a strict agenda for illegal immigrants. A large part of his campaign focused on a rhetoric that stated that the Mexicans “bringing drugs”, “bringing crime”, and inflicting harm and threatening the safety and security of U.S. citizens by being “rapists”. After his campaign though, his words later showed a change of heart. A week before the repeal of the DACA act in a question asking about the fate of the DREAMers, Trump was quoted, “We love the DREAMers”. However, with protests and pressure coming from conservatives who expected him to follow through with his agenda and take immediate action on deporting illegal immigrants, Trump decided to “pull the plug” on DACA.
The Future of Illegal Immigrants Under DACA
Since the repeal of DACA on September 5th, applications for the work and school permits normally issued under DACA have closed. In six months, DACA will be phased out and come to an end, taking away the right to education, work, and life in the U.S for many immigrants. Unless the Congress is successful in legalizing DACA within the span of six months, DREAMers will lose their protection and right to stay, becoming fair game to agents of ICE, or workers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation back to the country in which they came from.