Hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants continue to live in fear of impending deportation as Congress attempts to finalize their fate with a legislative solution.
Many of these young people, known as “Dreamers,” have known no home other than the United States. They were brought here as children, through no fault or choice of their own, and have little to no ties to their native country. They reside in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants protection from deportation to children who were brought to the U.S. before age 16 and who have lived in the U.S. before June 15, 2007.
As a result of the Obama-era program, children who were brought to the country illegally have been able to do basic things like obtain a valid driver’s license, attend schools, enroll in college and legally secure jobs. Also, much to the surprise of many conservatives, these “Dreamers” also pay income taxes — despite the fact they are unable to receive advantages like reduced healthcare or financial aid from the state or government for education. They also cannot benefit from unemployment.
DACA allowed for its recipients to apply to defer deportation and live legally in the U.S. for two years and afterward, they could apply again to renew the deferral. Last September, the Trump administration announced the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would no longer accept applications for new deferred action requests under DACA, nor would it accept renewal applications for those who had been approved for deferred action under the program in the past. As of Jan. 13, individuals who were previously granted deferred action under DACA are allowed to request renewal. New hopefuls, however, are still unable to apply.
New headlines from this past week have hinted that President Donald Trump and leaders in Congress are attempting to reach a bipartisan agreement when deciding the fate of DACA recipients.
On Jan. 9, a federal judge in Phoenix temporarily blocked the Trump administration from ending DACA. This is a move from the judicial branch in checking executive power, but Trump did not see it that way.
“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” Trump tweeted the day after the judge’s ruling.
The future of DACA, as this past week has shown, is still in limbo. But the recipients — who are among the student population at UF and Santa Fe College — deserve better. They have worked hard to get the jobs and education they have.
But talks at the federal level seem to be going nowhere. DACA is not perfect. We recognize this. It lacks a clear pathway for immigrants to gain legal citizenship. But doing away with it entirely is not the solution. Trump himself has endorsed a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
What America needs is for Congress to edit and improve the already existing program and not threaten the way of life that “Dreamers” have been living for years. The benefit of having “Dreamers” is something that is well-acknowledged and accepted.
What we need is Congress to put aside their political differences and stop making it a partisan issue.