Resilience, Strength, and Hope for Dreamers
Let me preface this post by stating that Obama’s executive order regarding DACA was NOT enough relief for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth. Americans believe that only the “best” immigrants deserve to stay and live in this country. Immigrants must therefore prove themselves worthy to be called “American.” The common dialogue is that since “DREAMers” are educated non-criminals, and it was their parents who broke the law, they are worthy of staying in America. As if those that are unable to obtain an education because they have to help provide for their families, or those that made mistakes as a child or teenager are unworthy of being in America. The problem with this dialogue is that it shuns and demonizes not only the parents of these “DREAMers,” but also the kid who is considered “average,” or the kid who has a learning disability, or the kid who lives in an impoverished community and is surrounded by drugs and violence, and for a second or two, gets mixed up with the wrong crowd. The impact and effect of this demonization is that it makes that “unworthy” kid even more deportable, because they don’t meet America’s standards of being the “best” immigrant. We must end this dialogue. We must fight for EVERY immigrant, every human.
The news about Trump’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has affected more than 800,000 undocumented immigrant youth. These young adults have lived their lives hidden for fear of deportation. However, with DACA, 800,000 Dreamers were given a glimmer of hope. Hope that perhaps if they prove to America they are hardworking, smart, dedicated members of our society, they may one day become American citizens and no longer fear deportation and family separation. With one act, Trump has attempted to take that glimmer of hope away. I say “attempted” because despite the end of DACA and the risk of deportation, Dreamers remain hopeful, resilient, strong, and still fighting for a better future in America.
What is DACA?
DACA is short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It was created in 2012 by President Obama after excessive amounts of pressure for an immigration reform. In short, DACA gave over 800,000 undocumented youth temporary work permits and a promise to defer deportation while their permits remained valid. It gave them no path towards citizenship or towards becoming legal permanent residents.
In order to qualify for DACA, among other requirements, an undocumented immigrant had to: be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, have no criminal record and be enrolled in some form of education or have obtained their GED or High School Diploma. Therefore, 100% of the 800,000 dreamers have some form of education, have no criminal record, have contributed to our economy, and have obtained employment in better working conditions with better pay. Through the application process alone, Dreamers together paid over $3 million dollars for their initial work permit applications.
Despite their contributions, DACA recipients did not receive any special privileges. They did not receive access to government grants and school funding, which means they have had to take out loans and save money for their own education. They did not receive “in-state” tuition prices, which means they have had to pay out-of-state tuition for college courses despite living in the same state for years. They received nothing more than permission to work and a promise that they would not be deported during their 2-year period.
For current DACA recipients
While no new applications will be accepted as of September 5, 2017, it is important to know that if you currently have a DACA work permit, it is valid until it expires, even if it expires after September 5, 2017.
Moreover, if your permit will expire between now and March 15, 2018, you must apply for a 2-year renewal of your current permit by October 5, 2017. As a result, many local organizations are helping Dreamers renew their permits for free with the help of volunteer attorneys.
Unfortunately, if your permit expires after March 15, 2018, you will not be able to renew it.
If you applied for Advance Parole to travel abroad, your application will not be processed. Therefore, you will NOT be granted permission to travel abroad and you should NOT leave the country. If you leave the country, you will risk no re-entry and/or a 10-year bar to returning.
We have limited time to help as many Dreamers renew their permits before the October 5, 2017 deadline. Contact your local non-profit organizations to see how you can help. If you have little or no immigration experience, you can still help.
One organization that is offering training and organizing rapid response clinics is Lawyers for Good Government. Click here to sign up! They provide quick training so that you can help DACA recipients renew their permits.
For All Others
Contact Congressional members by texting, emailing, tweeting, calling, etc., and push them to make the right choice and help our immigrant youth gain a path towards citizenship.
Donate to your local immigration non-profit organizations so that they can continue to provide low-cost or free legal assistance to thousands of undocumented immigrants.
End the dialogue that demonizes our immigrants, including our parents, our siblings, our neighbors and our co-workers. Instead, of asking why such a large group of young adults hasn’t tried to become citizens, remember that they do not have the ability to do so. Instead of blaming their parents for “breaking the law” when they brought them to America, remember that they left their homes for a reason, often times fleeing poverty, drugs, and violence.
For more information about the changes to DACA, visit the USCIS website by clicking here.