By Regina Sanchez
On September 5, President Donald Trump announced his plans to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, more commonly known as DACA.
DACA is an immigration policy that was created by the Obama administration in 2012. The policy allows certain minors who illegally entered the country with their guardians, to receive deferred action from deportation and a work permit for two years. Once the two years pass, they can renew their status for two more years.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump Administration had made the choice to end the DACA policy, but would be giving Congress a six-month time period to come up with another policy to replace it. Once the six months are up, if there is no new policy, those who were protected under DACA will be eligible for deportation.
In an article for the New York Times, Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and an original author of the Dream Act, said the following, “I’m hoping that this is a moment where we are forced to finally do something… We want to call this bill for a vote on the floor of the House and the floor of the Senate. I am hoping that we will have enough votes to pass it.”
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican of Maine, said she believed there is “widespread bipartisan support for legislation that would provide some measure of protection to children who are brought to this country through no decision of their own,” when also speaking to the New York Times.
This decision will be impacting DACA recipients not only nationwide, but also locally, as there are many DACA recipients within the Bay Area.
There are many resources for these recipients who fear deportation. Here in Marin, the Canal Alliance, which helps low-income, Spanish-speaking immigrants acquire the tools they need to thrive, is one of the most useful resources to get information on all of the policy changes.
“We don't want people to worry currently, but we do want people to seek legal advice as to whether or not they might be eligible for other immigration benefits,” said Sarah Emory, the Legal Outreach Coordinator for the Immigration Legal Services department at Canal Alliance.
“It's one thing to say ‘Yeah, we don't want you to worry,’ but it's another thing to be aware of this current situation… and the fight now is to get Congress to pass some version of the Dream Act which would provide an eventual road to citizenship from those current beneficiaries of DACA, those who are eligible for DACA, and a variety of other currently undocumented people in this country. That's what we really want to happen and that's what we need Congress to make happen, but everything is up in the air right now until what is going to happen after that 6 month period is passed,” continued Emory.
Local reactions of the removal of DACA have been very mixed, as Novato is an extremely diverse city.
Novato High junior David Raiger discussed his opinion on the current news.
“I think it’s sad for the families that are getting deported, but personally the fact is that they came here knowing that they could get deported. It’s a chance they took and knew they could be the ones being deported,” Said Raiger.
On the contrary, senior Ximena Obeso believes that the loss of DACA would be disappointing for what this country stands for.
“I’m not under DACA, fortunately, I’m under another case, but I know what it feels like to lose such a privilege,” Obeso said, regarding the thousands of immigrants who could be losing DACA within the next two years. “For all the DACA recipients out there: Don’t lose hope, don’t ever be ashamed of where you come from, and most importantly don’t ever lose sight of what you and your family came here for.”
The future for DACA as of right now seems to be very uncertain. President Donald Trump has tried to reassure the safety of undocumented immigrants via twitter.
On September 7th, Trump tweeted, “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about - No action!”
This regarded what many DACA recipients fear the most, being deported during the six months that Trump gave Congress to make another replacement policy. The Republicans can pass a temporary extension for DACA recipients or attempt to pass new legislation, which might allow dreamers to remain in the US.
On the night of September 13, rumors about Trump and the Democratic party coming to a bipartisan agreement on an alternative policy arose. This led to Trump tweeting, “No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”
Trump then proceeded with the following thread, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!....They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own - brought in by parents at young age…”
While Trump has previously spoken of illegal immigrants in a very degrading way, his recent statements show that he could be fighting for their rights to stay in this country.
For anyone wanting to get involved, Emory recommends that people, “stay current with the news about immigration policies and DACA, educate themselves to what these policies are so that they can be prepared to fight for them and defend them in the months and years to come. The more aware people are about the benefits of these programs, and the benefits of comprehensive immigration, the more that will start having the ripple effect at the national level which is what we need.”
Visit www.UnitedWeDream.org or www.WeareHeretoStay.org to stay informed on local events and rallies supporting Dreamers in the Bay Area.