Dreamers in the Balance: End of DACA Deferred

The futures of 700,000 Americans are currently hanging in the balance. These are the dreamers, or undocumented young people who arrived in America before the age of 16. These brilliant youth received protection from deportation as well as various other benefits when President Barack Obama established DACA in 2012.

So what is DACA? DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This act provides protection to undocumented immigrants who qualify. In order to qualify, you must have been brought to the United States before the age of 16, have attended or be attending school, graduated or have obtained a GED, or been in the military/ been honorably discharged from the armed services. In addition, you cannot have any serious criminal offenses or be over the age of 31.

DACA provides several benefits. DACA allows for the “Dreamers” to legally obtain a driver’s license, enroll in college, legally obtain a job, and reside in the United States. These benefits aren’t permanent however and people must reapply for DACA every two years.

The inauguration of Donald Trump changed everything. Republicans have long been unhappy with DACA and have favored stricter policies on immigration. Soon after Donald Trump took office, the attorney-generals of several Republican-led states made a statement that they would challenge DACA in court if Trump did not move against it.

In September of 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the repeal of DACA with Donald Trump calling on Congress to develop a permanent solution for the Dreamers. No solution has yet to be worked out.

The young people protected by DACA have built their lives here in the United States and many of them know no other home, but here they are firemen, police officers, teachers, soldiers, friends, neighbors, and family. Indeed, they are as stitched into the fabric of America as anyone else who was born on this soil.

We spoke to a student here at Aberdeen High School who has family that could be affected by the removal of DACA. He remarked how, “DACA has provided my uncle and our family with opportunities that we would not have in El Salvador. If DACA does get repealed, then this could be a huge detriment to our family. I don’t want to constantly be worried about my uncle or one of my cousins being deported, it’s just not fair.”

About 30,000 immigrants will lose their protection status every month starting March 9th, and now these Dreamers’ livelihoods are at stake. These people who built a future for themselves and their families will be susceptible for deportation once their protection expires.

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that Democrats and Republicans in Congress work out a compromise in order to protect the hundreds of thousands protected by DACA who are Americans. The end of DACA was recently halted on Tuesday, January 9th, by California Federal Judge William Alsup who ordered that the government must continue to receive renewal applications. However, this halt is in no means permanent and a long-lasting solution for the Dreamers must come into being.

Congress. You need to do your job. America’s future is counting on you.