Since the inauguration of Donald Trump in November 2016, there have been many significant changes to the way immigrants and refugees in the United States have been treated.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy created by former president Barack Obama, that allows children who illegally immigrated to the U.S. with their parents to remain within the country, despite their illegal status.
These children are referred to as the “dreamers” and they receive benefits like a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
The program has been under massive scrutiny since its implementation in 2012, as the conservative party in the United States has been known to be opposed to any protection for illegal immigrants. Trump is a perfect example of the conservative viewpoint, proposing a wall along the Mexican-American border, as well as increased security in these areas.
The Trump White House has called DACA illegal, despite the fact that it has received significant bipartisan support since it was introduced. DACA has been granted to more than 800,000 immigrants, according to the New York Times.
Liberals and moderates alike have agreed that DACA has been beneficial due to its humanitarian aspect; treating young people who came to the US under their parent’s instruction with compassion and leniency is what many would call the “right thing to do.”
DACA has been proven to have many economic benefits as well. According to the Huffington Post, these students have (usually) already been through the public school system, thus taxpayer dollars have already been spent on their education. At this point, most DACA recipients have paying jobs, pay taxes and are ready to establish families here. In other words, they live and exist just as a legal citizen would, providing benefits to their communities.
Conservatives argue, however, that DACA is not constitutional. An opinion piece from The Hill said, “We have the right to decide who comes to the U.S. Even if we doubled our current legal immigration quotas, there would still be people who would enter or remain in the U.S. illegally. Enforcing our immigration laws encourages people to come to the U.S. legally and discourages illegal immigration.”
No matter where one lands on this complicated spectrum, or how one feels about DACA, it’s essential to consider the impact on the dreamers themselves if the policy is repealed.
The threat of deportation is a highly emotional and stressful thing to endure, and many dreamers have sought counseling in the wake of Trump’s threat.
Stephanie Mora-DeRosby, a senior staff counselor at the Colorado State University Health Network who is the primary contact for undocumented student counseling said “we deal with the deportation stress, the acculturation stress, the immigration stress that’s specifically geared towards the students who are in the DACA program.”
“That’s a specific kind of stress. Other students don’t worry about deportation, they don’t worry acculturation, they don’t worry about their emigration status.”
A video published by the New York Times on September 5 of 2017 interviewed several DACA beneficiaries, and each person gave a brief testimonial on what the repeal would mean for them.
Most of them are in their 20s, and have spent the majority of their formative years here in the United States.
“Before DACA I always felt like I was in between two worlds.”
“I was born in Honduras, but if I were to go back to Honduras, it’s like I’m foreign to them,” said Heymi Elvir Maldonado.
Repealing DACA, even though it may be viewed as the support of an illegal action, would up-end families and working contributors to this country, who would have no place else to go.
Kathleen Harward, an Attorney and Director at CSU Student Legal Services assured that the dreamers will be cared for.
“Mentors, professors, student affairs, colleagues and others across every part of [the CSU] campus provide encouragement and support every day to assure Dreamers that they are valued and supported”.
“Whatever happens next, I love this country and I belong here” said Bruna Bouhid to the New York Times.
The dreamers will not go down without a fight.