Defending the rights of DACA recipients

September 19, 2017

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act which protected those who immigrated to the United States at a young age.

Trump declared that DACA didn’t work and that the clock was ticking on Congress to replace DACA, as part of a larger immigration reform over the next six months.

Since the announcement of DACA being scheduled to end, there has been widespread panic about the fate of young immigrants, also known as Dreamers, some of whom have only ever known the U.S. as their home.

In response to this act by Trump, university President Sharon Gaber released two statements, on Sept. 5 and 6, in support of Dreamers and especially those enrolled at UT.

“We need Congress to help protect our students. The planned termination of the program would disrupt the lives and education of UT students who are important contributors to our region, campus and community,” Gaber said.

Not only do we agree with the Gaber's affirmation that these students matter to UT, we believe that if DACA is ended with no other act in place, the consequences will be exponential.

Ending DACA will cause major harm to young people who could possibly be deported, and it will also cause major societal harm.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 124,166 people received DACA benefits in 2016, with 11,226 rejected and 118,389 applications still pending. That's a total of 253,781 people affected by DACA in 2016 alone.

That’s a lot of people, all of whom are now face deportation. This leaves a large hole in our workforce, in higher education and all over the country. This is something we simply don’t have the manpower to fill.

Rumors surrounding DACA, what it means and who can apply for it, circled rapidly after the announcement on Sept. 5.

According to an article by the Washington Post, there are five main myths about DACA in the political sphere today that can be proven incorrect.

  1. “DACA incentivized an increase in illegal immigration.” False. DACA can only be applied for if you came to the country before you were 16, and have lived here since at least June 15, 2007. No one entering currently can apply.

  2. “DACA has taken jobs from Americans.” False. According to the article, from 1970 to 2017, the U.S. labor force doubled. But rather than ending up with a high unemployment rate, U.S. employment also doubled. Apparently, having more workers and consumers is better for a capitalist society, go figure.

  3. “Repealing DACA would benefit taxpayers.” False. DACA applicants are not eligible for government programs such as welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. In fact, according to the National Academy of Sciences, immigrants who enter the United States as children pay more on average in taxes over their lifetimes than they receive in benefits.

  4. “DACA repeal protects communities from criminals.” False. DACA recipients have to pass a background check and benefits can even be revoked for simply getting arrested, without conviction.

  5. “DACA repeal is just about politics.” False. While it is in the political sphere, this issue goes far beyond politics. It’s about the lives and futures of these immigrants.

DACA recipients are not criminals. They did not choose to come here illegally and they were promised protection when applying for these benefits. Now we are punishing them by giving them a six month period of the unknown before they may get deported.

This is not right. But what can any of us do about?

According to the American Immigration Council, there is one possibility with a version of the DREAM act that entered Congress in July, which allows a three-step program for citizenship for these immigrants.

If someone immigrated to the U.S. before 18 years old, entered four years prior to enactment and has been here since, has not been convicted of a crime with more than one year incarceration, or convicted of three or more offenses for which the sentence was 90 days or more, as well as having been admitted to an institution of higher education, graduated high school or obtained a GED, or is currently enrolled in secondary school or a program assisting students to obtain a diploma or GED, then they can receive these benefits.

But this isn’t even law yet and the clock is ticking.

To support this act, or any act that helps protect these young immigrants, it is extremely important to get involved.

Call your congressmen. If you’re from Toledo, that would be Senior Senator Sherrod Brown, and Junior Senator Rob Portman, as well as Representative Marcy Kaptur.

Also, be sure to write to newspapers about why DACA replacement is important and continue to get the word out.

Last, but not least, be sure to show up to rallies and events to show support. The more bodies that are there, the louder the voice that is going to be heard.

Don’t be a bystander; do what you can to make a difference and fight this issue. Remember that even if you think this is wrong, doing nothing is a vote against reform.

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