Since President Trump announced the eventual end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on September 5, 2017, DACA has headlined countless articles, newspapers, and protest signs across the country. The tension came to a head this past weekend, when ideological disagreements over the future of DACA actually had a hand in shutting down the U.S. government. While the government has since reopened for business thanks to the passing of a short-term spending bill, the future of this program remains a question mark. So how can we support DACA and secure the futures of those affected by this decision? First, let's start with the basics:
What is DACA?
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and it's an immigration program that was put into place by former President Barack Obama. The program protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as young kids from deportation.
Individuals who were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, came to the U.S. before turning 16, and have continuously lived in this country since June 15, 2007, were eligible for the program. By paying a fee, submitting an application, and agreeing to a background check, these applicants have the chance to receive a two-year work authorization that removes the risk of deportation (unless they commit a crime).
In other words, "if your parents brought you here as a child, if you've been here a certain number of years, and if you're willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you'll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship," explained Obama on his Facebook page. Roughly 800,000 people have applied to the program since 2012.
What will happen if the Trump administration gets rid of DACA?
While this is dependent on the specifics of Trump's final decision, those 800,000 people, known as "dreamers," will be at risk for deportation for simply doing what the government asked them to do a mere six years ago.
Once their work permits expire, the roughly 800,000 DACA beneficiaries "will, at best, return to their pre-2012 status," explains Politico. "They won't be able to work legally; some will work off of the books, some may find employers willing to falsify employment eligibility forms and others will use someone else's Social Security number. In some states, including Texas, access to a driver's license also disappears once lawful presence is revoked."
For someone like Adrian Reyna, a recipient of DACA, the end of the program means that she, along with her friends and family members, will no longer be able to stay with their families in the U.S. "We provide critical income for our families. We've made a living, bought new homes, started new jobs, gave our mothers and fathers the support they've given us," she writes on United We Dream.
How can we support DACA?
We can support the DREAM Act, which is a bill from Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham that would "essentially turn DACA into a formal legal program and offer those individuals an opportunity to become U.S. citizens over time," reports CNN.
We can do this by signing the United We Dream petition, which will be delivered to members of congress once it reaches 200,000 signatures, donate to United We Dream, tweet at congress, call congress, contact your local representatives, and get involved with DREAM Act Now to make your voice heard.
Head over to United We Dream for more information.