Eight hundred thousand students, military personnel and civil servants will be affected by the latest and cruelest decision by President Donald Trump. Eight hundred thousand people who just so happened to be unlucky in their situation, but took the initiative to better it.
Beginning in 2012, former President Barack Obama made the executive decision to grant young, undocumented immigrants opportunities through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, colloquially known as DACA. Since its beginning, DACA has helped almost 800,000 teenagers and young adults who unwillingly entered the United States illegally with their family.
They are all the Dreamers. The ones who came to this country without a choice, who have worked hard to gain the protections they have today. You probably know a Dreamer. It could be the person who sits next to you in math class, or your friendly co-worker. Maybe it’s your neighbor who will be leaving for college in the fall, or the first responder to an accident.
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Now, these Dreamers are at risk of being deported to a country they might never have grown up in, with a language they don’t know. Many Dreamers came to the United States at such a young age they don’t know anything about their country of origin. The United States might be the only country they consider their home.
On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the discontinuation of DACA, a move of course directed by the president. Heartless, is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this most recent action by the executive branch. Then, disgust. How could one even comprehend the idea of deporting young teenagers to a country they barely know?
The United States is an eclectic collection of people, a fusion of cultures, ethnicities, nationalities and races, it is what makes us a melting pot. Immigration is at the heart of the country.
The Dreamers are not the criminals, gang members or drug dealers undocumented immigrants are often perceived as. They are functioning members of society, probably functioning better than some of the American druggies I’ve encountered. DACA recipients are not harming this country through crime, in fact some of them support this country by serving in the military. Their importance to this country is visible in the University of California’s efforts to sue the Trump administration on Sept. 8, with the university system protesting that they would be deeply affected if students and some faculty are forced to leave.
Don’t get your panties in a twist, DACA does not grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants; in fact, DACA only provides two years of deferral for applicants unless they renew. During those two years, many Dreamers utilize DACA to apply to college and get driver’s licenses. Furthermore, all DACA recipients pay taxes. These taxes do not go back to supporting Dreamers but instead subsidize the programs that any citizen of the United States may enjoy.
Frankly, I can’t imagine any humane person deciding to end DACA, the support system to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers. Trump’s decision feels like another stab at trying to repeal decisions during the Obama administration. And if it ends anything like the last attempt, partisan stubbornness will halt any progress made to assist Dreamers. These actions taken by the executive branch simply epitomize a strong nationalistic and xenophobic attitude.
However, there has been some movement in the senate to quickly save Dreamers. California Sen. Kamala Harris took to social media to vehemently express her protests against Trump’s decision. Harris also immediately co-sponsored the national DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), which would permanently protect the 800,000 Dreamers from deportation.
Currently, Trump is trying to wipe up the mess he already made by claiming to revisit his decision to end DACA if Congress not take action within six months. The administration appears to be playing a petty game of “good cop bad cop,” Sessions as bad cop with his drive to completely shut down DACA, and Trump as “good cop.” Yet the damage is already done: Trump should learn to make better decisions in the first place.
Deporting 800,000 young adults and teenagers seems rather far-fetched. America doesn’t have the means to do it: billions of dollars towards deporting people who contribute to the workforce and economy, it all sounds a bit backwards. Nor would the American people and media allow the mass deportation to happen. Just imagine the backlash if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) walks into UCLA to deport a student! It’s grotesque and unfathomable.
But enough about the “what ifs.” The move to end DACA was one of the Trump’s most atrocious actions as Commander-in-Chief. It was another volatile action by the man voted into the highest position of office of the United States and the country is in disbelief, yet again.
You are born into citizenship by pure chance, it is not your choice in the least. Neither is immigrating to a country as a child, because it was a decision that rested on the shoulders of the parents, and it is not one young children could make. This is a country that prides itself on being composed of immigrants, and it’s appalling to punish the ones who embody the American dream.
Featured Image Credit: Maya Avelar