The news that the Trump Administration has rescinded DACA is devastating. Several of IJPC’s Youth Educating Society (YES) members are DACA recipients themselves, or have family or friends who have DACA. As U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said today (September 5, 2017), “The program known as DACA…has been rescinded,” the faces of our YES members were fixed in our mind. We know that the faces, the stories, and the dreams of our YES members are representative of the estimated 800,000 other DACA recipients across the country whose lives are forever changed by this news. To take away their legal status so they can be deported in order to illustrate a tough stance on immigration is immoral and wrong.
DACA recipients are resilient and all too familiar with these challenging situations. In 2010 and 2011, Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would have given young undocumented immigrants a chance to earn citizenship. In response to Congress’ failure, young immigrants- called Dreamers- put pressure on President Obama and won the creation of DACA in 2012.
The last year has been a roller coaster ride as the immigrant community watched the citizens of the U.S. elect a president who campaigned on his hatred of immigrants. After the election, President Trump and his administration went back and forth on whether or not they would protect the DACA program. All the while, these young people were working, going to school, paying taxes, providing for their families, and driving their family to school, work, and appointments. They have tried to stay focused amidst the possibility that their world could come crashing down at any moment. That moment is now. Will Jose be able to finish his senior year of college and secure his degree? Will Heyra and Maurico be able to continue working and supporting their families?
Though there are questions of what will happen as the program winds down, there is still an opportunity for congress to take action to defend our young people by passing the DREAM Act of 2017. This is a bipartisan bill that would provide a direct road to U.S. citizenship for people who are either undocumented, have DACA or temporary protected status (TPS), and who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program. Instead of having to renew their DACA status every 2-3 years, the DREAM Act of 2017 creates a permanent solution and allows young people a chance to put their talents, dreams, love, and passions to work right here in the only country they know as home.
Our young people are bright. They are strong. They are incredibly passionate. They are community and campus leaders. They are sharing their stories every chance they get in hopes that someone will listen, someone will better understand, someone else will decide to join them in the struggle. They are our neighbors, coworkers, brothers and sisters. They are our family. Today, they need you. Today, we stand beside them more fiercely than any other day before.
IJPC remains committed to supporting DACA recipients and will do everything we can to help them and help connect them to resources during this difficult time. If you are a DACA recipient or know someone who is, please let them know that we are a resource.
IJPC has been standing beside the immigrant community since the 1980s and today as we confront racism and hate in 2017, we continue to say, “We stand with immigrants and dreamers to #DefendDACA!”