“The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States—including proactively seeking travel documentation—or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible,” the White House stated in a list of talking points about DACA’s dismantling.
Eight hundred thousand people are in danger.
If you know all of this already and don’t want to read the intro, scroll down for a few resources on how to help.
Here’s the skinny:
The federal government program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created in 2012 under the Obama administration. It allows undocumented children who were brought to the United States by their parents to work, study and live legally.
If those eligible pass a vetting process, DACA delays any action to deport them for two years. With DACA they are also eligible to get a driver’s license and work permit.
A Dreamer is a person protected under DACA. DACA was essentially a compromise, created when the Development, Relief, and Education Act repeatedly failed to pass. It would have allowed those eligible to obtain permanent legal status.
DACA is no longer accepting new applicants, but will continue to renew existing applications until March 5th.
The White House’s statement says:
“It should be noted that DACA was not intended to be available to persons who entered illegally after 2007. Thus, persons entering the country illegally today, tomorrow or in the future will not be eligible for the wind down of DACA.”
Trump is now allowing six months for Congress to decide the fate of Dreamers.
Individuals who have had friends deported have come forward to tell the stories of the void these friends left behind. The Guardian published an account by a doctor in Oakland, California, about Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, a nurse and an undocumented immigrant with no criminal record who was forced to return to Mexico, leaving behind three children.
He says: “Maria’s deportation is the worst possible outcome of an immigration policy that is not about the ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals’ with whom Donald Trump threatened us during his campaign, but about racist and inaccurate definitions of what it means to be American.”
The statement released by the White House says individuals, whose protection under DACA expires, will not be proactively reported to ICE and “placed in removal proceedings” unless they fall under one of the Department’s “enforcement priorities.”
The fact that there is an “unless” here is beyond concerning.
The reason it’s vital to hold congress accountable is that they have the power for the next six months to pass legislation defending the livelihoods of the nearly 800,000 individuals.
The White House has jumped on the opportunity to tell immigrants to literally pack their bags.
“As noted, we expect Congress to pass legislation so this will hopefully be a moot point,” CNN reported from the Department of Homeland Security. “However, of course we would encourage persons who are in the country illegally to depart voluntarily, or seek another form of immigration benefit for which they might qualify … Individuals have an independent obligation to comply with the laws that Congress passes, in all contexts.”
If Congress fails to act, nearly 800,000 people, many of whom have known no home other than the U.S., may face deportation.
Dreamers have raised their voices about everyday anxieties living in this political climate such as Juan Escalante who offers a “101 guide” for those who want to know what it’s like to live as a Dreamer.
Escalante is from Venezuela and fears being sent back to the country currently ravaged by political turmoil.
“The thought that you would be STRIPPED of your DACA status is not just traumatizing, it’s dehumanizing and exhausting,” he says in the thread.
Trump’s decision stinks of fear. He even asked for a “way out” of the situation from his advisors, but there was none. The attorney general of Texas among others of Republican-led states pressured Trump by threatening to sue if he did not get rid of DACA by Sept. 5.
During the election, Trump said he would make the deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented persons in the U.S. a top priority. We can help stem this tide of racism and hate by standing up for Dreamers.
I acknowledge I am writing this from a place of privilege. I will never know what it truly feels like to be in this situation, so please actively listen to the voices of those who do. I have pulled together some insights and suggestions from resources that have helped me.
Here are some things you can do:
First, this website offers suggestions and at the bottom has a list of activists and organizations to follow on Twitter so you can stay up to date in the days to come, and discover many more ways to help.
- Here’s a little DACA fact sheet for starters.
- The Women’s March twitter provides a google document with pre-made tweets so you can tweet at senators to defend DACA. Find that here.
- You can help raise money for renewal applications for those who are already protected here and here, for example.
- Get involved locally! Here are just a few of the events going on in the next couple of weeks you can go to and rally with others to support DACA:
- Call officials such as Paul Ryan. You can use the scripts detailed here to make it easier.
- If you’re able to, you can also donate to United We Dream here. It’s the largest immigrant youth-led organization in America.
- Here’s another handy little template for contacting representatives in congress. It focuses on swing votes.
- Here are one DREAMer’s suggestions for how to help.
- Keep a careful eye on your social media. Don’t forget Politico and other outlets reported half a million people were temporarily forced to follow Trump on Twitter.
UMD students came together in solidarity to protest. University President Wallace Loh also sent out a campuswide email saying the University will not allow ICE officials to enter campus buildings, nor will any UMD Police question, detain, or arrest anyone solely based on their status.
Undocumented immigrants comprise 5 percent of Maryland’s population, and in 2014 nearly 100 students at UMD were DREAMers and DACA-mented students. In addition, there are other undocumented students who do not benefit from these programs.
According to a study done by The UndocuScholars Project, 56.7 percent of undocumented students reported being extremely concerned about paying for their college education. Respondents noted feeling isolated on campus and unsure of who they could trust, along with being treated unfairly due to their status by counselors, other students and the administration.
Unless Congress acts, DACA recipients will begin to lose protection March 6, 2018.
Featured Photo Credit: Marchers walked toward Lafayette Square from Dupont Circle, where they chanted in multiple languages, and showed that they were here to stay. (Julia Lerner/Photography Editor)
Raye Weigel is a multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.