DACA recipients deserve to stay in America

On September 27, 2017

Photo courtesy of Pax Ahimsa Gethen, Wikipedia

Between social media activism like #TakeAKnee and #DefendTitleIX popping up all over your instagram feed, #DefendDACA is among those that should matter to you, regardless if it affects you or not. The reason that is, is simply because of basic human rights, the ones entitled to all American citizen.

On September 5th, President Trump rescinded DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -  after ten attorney general’s, lead by Texas AG Paxton, threatened to sue the president if he did not rescind the Obama-era policy by that date.

While DACA has been all over the news as of late, there is still a lack of understanding around the program and why it exists. DACA, however, serves great purpose and contributes to this country.

First, there are almost 800,000 undocumented youths who have been helped by the DACA program, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Not everyone who is undocumented can apply to DACA. There are many requirements just to be eligible and once the application is put through it can take months before hearing back because of the rigorous background checks performed.

According to the American Center for Progress, there is the possibility of about $460 billion loss in the national GDP for the next decade if DACA is ended.

Now, as I can imagine you are a college student reading this and possibly thinking, “But they get financial aid and government help!” That is actually incorrect as DACA recipients do not qualify for any type of government help. If they want to attend college, they would need to take out loans like many college students do.

Many times some of us take these rights for granted. I can personally say I never understood what the value of affordable healthcare, education, or simply the ability to work a decent job would mean to me until I started dating an undocumented immigrant six years ago, who is now a DACA recipient.

As a kid I was chronically sick and visited the doctor's office almost every month, now imagine being undocumented and having to think twice about going to the doctor when you’re down with bronchitis, I know my mom never thought twice about it.

I believe that we should #DefendDACA to give the opportunity to those individuals who were raised in this country because it is as much theirs as it is ours. We need to make sure that the children of DACA parents who are American citizens aren’t put at risk like “Orange is the New Black” star Diane Guerrero was when she was just 14-years-old. 

We need open up doors to students like Hector Sanchez who is currently getting his masters at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health so that he can go back to his hometown of Chiriaco Summit, California and provide medical assistance because there is currently a lack of that in his community.

By calling the representatives of our New Jersey and other states we can help open the doors to the undocumented youth that need our help to continue living their lives peacefully just as many of us have. DACA is not a path to citizenship and it is not a pass for them to do whatever they’d like to, instead it’s just allowing them to live their daily lives.

The Dream Act has been in the works for about 16 years now but Congress has yet to settle on a plan to help the undocumented youth which is why Obama created the DACA program through an executive action.

Congress has until March 5, 2018 to come up with a solution for DACA and hopefully make the Dream Act a law as it should have been sixteen years ago. It is up to us to fight for our friends, family and neighbors who need our help. 

 

dherrera@ramapo.edu

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