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Dreamers and DACA - by Humberto Hernandez

  • Page ID
    187960
    • Humberto Hernandez at Pima Community College

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    America has been referred to as the nation of opportunity since its very beginning, or at least that is what has been tried to be sold to us. Many Americans are not aware of this, but there is a huge problem with 3% of the United States residents, which by the way, is about four times bigger than our military. This 3% are our undocumented citizens, rudely known as “illegal aliens”. Most of these undocumented immigrants brought foreign-born children and toddlers with them; moreover, these children grew up in the United States just like any other American kid with the difference of being undocumented. These children are known as the “DREAMers”. This essay will argue in the defense of DREAMers and DACA and analyze what can be done by the government and its people to protect them.

    In 2012, former President Barack Obama created a program that could administratively protect eligible undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States at an early age against deportation and would, essentially, provide work permits and a social security number to pay taxes to the government. This program was named “DACA”, which means “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”. According to USCIS (n.d.), “on June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of 2 years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible to request work authorization. Deferred action is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status”. Approximately, around 800,000 DREAMers are protected through DACA.

    There is an issue though, not all undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive DACA, furthermore, former DACA recipients could not renew their status because their renewal applications got stuck or lost in the process. According to Rose (2017), “thousands of Dreamers thought they had met the final deadline to renew their DACA status last month. But some of those applications got stuck in the mail”. Many people’s lives rely on DACA, literally. DACA recipients grew up in the United States, most of them barely speak their parent’s native language, and do not know anything about their parents’ home country. As you may know, undocumented immigrants cannot leave the United States because if they do, they will not be able to come back to America. The lack of passports makes it impossible for them to travel outside the United States. DACA provides driver’s licenses to the respective recipients, allowing access to higher education, work, and social activities just like any other citizen. Obviously, they are limited to scholarships and government grants.

    For people that do not agree with DACA and DREAMers, these two programs have a strong impact on our economy. An economy that both Americans and DREAMers build and support. According to Svajlenka & Truong (2021), “nationally, DACA recipients and their households make major economic and fiscal contributions each year. CAP analysis finds that DACA recipient households pay $6.2 billion in federal taxes and $3.3 billion in state and local taxes each year. DACA recipients and their households are critical, too, in local economies. After taxes, these households hold $25.3 billion in spending power. They own 68,000 homes, making $760 million in mortgage payments and $2.5 billion in rental payments annually, money that could be in jeopardy if DACA goes away”. When it comes to debating about if preserving DACA is worth the fight, Americans should analyze how the economy would get affected by revoking DACA.

    If DACA gets revoked, many Americans will suffer from it. For example, the University of Nebraska Omaha offers “The Dreamer’s Pathway Scholarship” for students pursuing higher education there. Many of the students that are awarded such scholarship study for a degree in education. Therefore, many DREAMers work in many districts across the United States. According to Toppo (2017), “Nationwide, an estimated 20,000 DACA-eligible teachers, many of them possessing key Spanish-language skills that are in high demand, could be plucked from the classroom if the program is phased out”. Clearly, losing teachers could hugely impact American children, and we cannot afford that. Actually, as of right now public schools are short by about 327,000 educators by Gould (2017). If the government stops supporting DACA and DREAMers, our country will feel this tremendous gap right away. The public needs to be informed about this issue, and many fellow citizens have started creating websites and social media in support of DACA to inform the public. For instance, “UnitedWeDream” provides DACA resources to renew petitions.

    On September 5, 2017, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program termination was officially announced by the Trump administration. According to Romo (2017), White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump “wants DACA made permanent as part of comprehensive immigration legislation that would end illegal immigration, prevent visa overstays and create a merit-based system of immigration”. Primarily, what this administration tried to do was to stop potential illegal immigrants, and their children, from coming to the United States with the aspiration of taking advantage of DACA. The Trump administration's argument was based on the fact that the Obama administration created DACA without any Presidential ability to do so. Basically, immigration laws passed by congress did not give any President the ability to do such a thing, which former President Barack Obama later recognized. Although, according to the National Immigration Law Center (2020), “on June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision finding that the Trump administration’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was judicially reviewable, and done in an arbitrary and capricious manner, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)”. Not all DACA critics are opposed to the program's core principles. Instead, they disagree that Obama unilaterally implemented the program through executive order after becoming irritated with Congress' delay.

    Finally, it is worth mentioning that not all illegal immigrants are able to get accepted into DACA. There are certain parameters that have to be met in order to apply, such as “being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, having entered the U.S. before turning 16, having continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2017, and have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of applying to DACA” (Immigrants Rising, n.d.). People that want to help can sign up for updates on the following website: https://immigrantsrising.org/resource/steps-to-apply-for-daca-for-the-first-time/.

    Improving things in our nation will depend on how people support one another. In all the scenarios that are put before us as a community, it is always beneficial to analyze both sides of the same coin. It is never a good idea to cling to a single version of the truth. This paper was written with the intention of getting you to think about undocumented immigrants, their children, and how the government views them, with the purpose of getting you to consider both sides on a topic that has been hotly debated in America for some time. The legal battles have shown the American people that Congress must act right away. Nationwide, immigrants are pushing to establish a route to citizenship for everyone, including DACA recipients and their families. 

    Reference

    Gould, E. (2017, October 6). Local Public Education Employment May Have Weathered Recent Storms, but Schools are Still Short 327,000 Public Educators. Economic Policy Institute, https://www.epi.org/publication/teacher-employment-may-have-weathered-recent-storms-but-schools-are-still-short-327000-public-educators/

    Immigrants Rising. (n.d.). Steps to Apply for Daca for the First Time. IRTLTE, https://immigrantsrising.org/resource/steps-to-apply-for-daca-for-the-first-time/

    National Immigration Law Center. (2020, June 22). Supreme Court Overturns Trump Administration’s Termination of DACA. NILC, Alert: Supreme Court Overturns Trump Administration’s Termination of DACA - National Immigration Law Center (nilc.org)

    Romo, V. (2017, September 5). Trump Ends DACA, Calls on Congress to Act. NPR, Trump Ends DACA, Calls On Congress To Act : NPR

    Rose, J. (2017, November 16). Oops, We Lost Your DACA Application. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2017/11/16/564655140/oops-we-lost-your-daca-application

    Svajlenka, N. P., & Truong, T. Q. (2021, November 24). The Demographic and Economic Impacts of DACA Recipients: Fall 2021 Edition. CAP, https://www.americanprogress.org/article/the-demographic-and-economic-impacts-of-daca-recipients-fall-2021-edition/#:~:text=Fiscal%20and%20economic%20contributions%20of,and%20local%20taxes%20each%20year.

    Toppo, G. (2017, October 11). 20,000 DACA Teachers at Risk- and Your Kids Could Feel the Fallout, Too. USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/10/11/thousands-daca-teachers-risk/752082001/

    USCIS. (n.d.). Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, https://www.uscis.gov/DACA#:~:text=ALERT%3A%20Deferred%20Action%20for%20Childhood,to%20preserve%20and%20fortify%20DACA.


    This page titled Dreamers and DACA - by Humberto Hernandez is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Humberto Hernandez at Pima Community College.