For many years, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) has acted as a sanctuary for thousands of young immigrants; it has preserved their dreams and aspirations. When former President Obama announced his executive order to offer protection against deportation, he lifted the fears and worries that hundreds of thousands had faced for many years.
The program offered a legal way for young undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States. The recipients of DACA were children when they arrived in the United States. DACA required that they graduate high school and pass a background check. DACA did not provide a path to legal citizenship, simply the legal ability to work and go to college in the country where these young immigrants grew up.
On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump called for the end of this Obama-era program.
Attorney General and Trump announced at the Justice Department that the program would end in order to protect American citizens who were victimized by the DACA program.
“[DACA] denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs,” Trump stated during his address at the Justice Department.
The Trump administration also announced that DACA recipients could be subject to deportation as soon as March of 2018. Those who have DACA that expired on or before March 5 had until October 5 to renew their applications.
Trump’s speech carried very anti-immigrant ideals that have become especially prominent during his presidential run. However, he is not solely responsible for the prejudices in the United States. It is more accurate to say that his election is a product of already-existing white nationalism and xenophobia.
It is the epitome of hypocrisy to be wary of “illegal aliens” who have “come to take their jobs.” This nation was built on the backs of immigrants who to this day continue to make the United States great.
Dreamers, people who have lived in the U.S. for the majority of their lives, people who have worked hard to be successful, are not criminals who want to steal American jobs. They are are your next-door neighbor or your peer at school. They are people who are trying to live the American Dream.
Since the announcement of the end of DACA, many Dreamers and supporters have expressed their outrage through protests. Portland has many advocates who wish to have their voices heard.
When the news was heard throughout the country, fear gripped me. Like the majority of Dreamers, I was in a place of complete uncertainty and disappointment. I may not be a recipient of DACA; however, my mother, family and friends have benefited from the program.
I was worried about what the future would look like. The possibility of deportation and losing the ones closest to me were the most prominent issues on my mind.
One of my best friends called me in completely distress. The U.S. is all she has known, and she was terrified of deportation. My mother sat me down and tried to prepare me for the possibility of life without her. Their worries are echoed throughout the immigrant community across the county.
We cannot allow the possibility of deportation for these young immigrants. We must take action and protect them. Calling your local government and getting involved in local activism are proactive ways to advocate for the cause.