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DACA: Political football with people’s lives

Ada Marys  |  Issue: October 2020
Protestors in defense of DACA
Protestors in defense of DACA and immigrant rights In Los Angeles, CA

For the past several years, the immigrants’ rights movement has focused on protecting the Dreamers, the undocumented youth who were brought to the United States at a young age. DACA has been a controversial topic since it began and has been in the spotlight for several years.

The stopgap program has been framed to be the best thing the undocumented community has, but it is far from the truth. In just a couple of years, former President Obama tried to expand it, Trump has rescinded it, and it has most recently been heard at the Supreme Court of the United States.

The question now remains: If Trump is re-elected, what will happen to DACA? These back-and-forth decisions have caused extreme emotional stress and chaotic circumstances for recipients and those excluded from the program.

After the Supreme Court ruled to preserve DACA, Trump threatened to find another way to destroy the program the very next day. The question presented to the court was not so much whether DACA was legal; it was whether Trump had legally rescinded it.

Due to this, the program is still threatened under the current administration. USCIS’s announcement regarding the SCOTUS decision demonstrated disappointment with the Supreme Court. Since then, they have not provided details about what is truly happening to the program.

According to the Supreme Court decision, DACA should return to its original 2012 form. However, it is unclear if new applications are being accepted, if Advance Parole is back, and more. The $495 fee might also increase and current recipients might have to renew yearly instead of every two years.

While Biden has “promised” he would make progressive legislation for Dreamers a priority, the reality is that DACA should not be the priority. One of the main problems with DACA is that it reinforces the “good vs. bad” immigrant rhetoric. DACA recipients are framed as the young children of lawbreakers who did not consent to coming to the United States illegally.

By this logic, government officials are keener on granting protection to youth but are extremely hesitant to do so for older generations.

In the middle of protecting and energizing the youth, it seems that the movement forgot about the older generations and the most vulnerable in the undocumented community. In doing so, laborers, refugees, older generations, and various other ethnicities are excluded from the conversation regarding a path to citizenship.

An immigrant should not have to be Harvard educated to be deemed worthy of protection. All 11 million immigrants deserve to feel safe in their homes.

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