BHS Insight

DACA Impacts Felt Locally

Emma Needham, Staff Writer

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What is DACA? Many misconceptions about who and what DACA covers float around the internet, as all things do. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was “an immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit,” according the DACA website.        As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals—referred to as Dreamers after the DREAM Act bill—were enrolled in the program created by DACA. The policy was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and the Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it intends to rescind it.

The people who DACA covers generally did not come here on their own accord. As the story typically goes, they were brought here by their parents. The argument in favor of DACA is that these children are minors, who have no say in where or when their family moves, much less if they do so illegally. The immigrants protected through DACA grew up in the US; people might not assume they are unauthorized immigrants, and they might not have even known it themselves until they were teenagers. The program was supposed to give them a chance to build a life and get an education in this country.

Insight spoke to a senior who wishes to to remain anonymous, came to the United States from Brazil with her parents. “I was not given a choice whether to leave or stay,” she said, “you can’t go against your parents.”

Her legal status is still pending. “I was in the process of being admitted into DACA, but two days after I applied, Trump came out with the announcement [that it was in the process of ending], so now I am on a waiting list. It’s scary to think that I might never get it.”

To apply for DACA, immigrants have to have come to the US before 2007, and have been 15 or younger when they arrived and younger than 31 when DACA was created in June 2012. They have to have a nearly spotless criminal record and be enrolled in high school or have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Perhaps most importantly, they have to apply. It’s estimated that about 1.3 million people would be eligible for DACA, but right now, about 800,000 people actually have it.

In response to how DACA would benefit her personally, she stated that she “would just have a normal life, and that’s the same for everyone in my position. I could get a driver’s license, and I could get financial aid for college. I can’t even get scholarships to pay for college if I got in. It skews my future plans. And it’s scary, because why would I stay in a country where I don’t see a future for myself in?”

DACA could provide opportunities to gain basic rights to immigrants that we already have as Americans. “DACA would make me a normal, Brazilian immigrant citizen, I would just be like everyone else. Right now, I can’t leave the country because there’s a chance that I might not be able to come back home. If I was to become a citizen with the help of DACA, I would be able to go back to Brazil and not have to worry if I’m going to get home safe.” she said.

In response to how she thinks the end of DACA would change our school, she states that “our diversity levels would definitely go down, I think, because people would be so much more scared to risk coming here.”

President Trump said in a statement that he was driven to end DACA by a concern for “the millions of Americans victimized by [DACA].”

Attourney General Jeff Sessions said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs,” according to the New York Times.

Trump has shown signs of meeting somewhere in the middle. According to Mr. Trump, with DACA, “There are two sides of this story. It’s always tough.”

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DACA Impacts Felt Locally