Paola came to the United States from Mexico as a two-year-old. She’s 23 now. Jose was a child when his parents brought him here. Now he’s 30. Danna came when she was eight. Now she’s a 24-year-old college senior. Kenia was eleven when she and her parents walked across a desert for three days to get to the United States. Now she is a senior at Drake University. They are among– young people who came to the United States as children and have no other home. Their only legal status here comes through DACA.
DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – is an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012. DACA gives temporary protection from deportation to more than 700,000 Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who entered the country before they turned 16, and and who meet some other conditions. Kenia described what this meant to her:
“I began to cry, my body was shaking, and my heart was beating like never before. I had been waiting for this day since my family and I migrated to the U.S. The president’s executive action would give us deportation relief, a work permit, and a small dose of peace. …
“As soon as my work permit arrived in the mail, I got a job and I haven’t stopped working since. The summer before I started my education at Drake, I worked three jobs to save up enough money for my tuition. DACA does not make us eligible for FAFSA or any student loans. If we choose to pursue a higher education, we have to pay out of pocket or receive private scholarships. …
“I have been able to buy my parents a home, get a driver’s license, and live without fear of being deported. “
Other young people protected by DACA tell similar stories: college, work, paying taxes, buying homes, volunteering in the community, and, most of all, no longer living in daily fear of deportation.
Now the Dreamers are threatened again. Their only protection comes from an executive order. A new president could reverse that order. Trump has refused to give any assurances about continuing DACA.
When each Dreamer applied for DACA, they provided detailed information, including addresses, photographs and fingerprints (as well as paying hefty application fees.) Now they fear the information they gave can be used to deport them. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on their fear of the new administration:
“The reason he and so many others ‘came out from the shadows,’ [Jose Arias] said, ‘was that we wanted to be part of the states — not to create a profile to be rounded up and (sent) back to the country we hardly even know.’ …
“The federal government needs a legal basis to begin proceedings to remove an undocumented person. That can include proving a person born abroad either overstayed a visa or entered the country without permission. All of the individuals who applied for the deferred action program provided that information in their applications.”
Want to help?
- Donate to the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.
- Call or write your senators and congressional representatives to tell them you support DACA and want to see it continue.
- If you are part of a university community, find out what your institution is doing to support DACA students. More than 250 universities and colleges have signed on to a Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students, which reads, in part:
“To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”