Since the inauguration of Donald Trump in November 2016, immigrants and refugees in the United States have been treated significantly different.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a U.S. immigration policy created by former president Barack Obama that, despite their illegal status, allows children who illegally immigrated to the United States with their parents to remain in the country.
These children are referred to as the “dreamers,” and they receive benefits such as a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
The program has been under massive scrutiny since its implementation in 2012, as the conservative party in the U.S. has been known to oppose any protection for illegal immigrants. Trump is a perfect example of the conservative viewpoint. He proposed building a wall along the Mexican-American border as well as increasing security in these areas.
The Trump White House has called DACA illegal even though the act received significant bipartisan support since its introduction. According to The New York Times, DACA has been granted to more than 800,000 immigrants.
Liberals and moderates alike have agreed that DACA has been beneficial due to its humanitarian aspect. It treats young people who came to the U.S. under their parent’s instruction with compassion and leniency is what many would call the “right thing to do.”
Proven financially beneficial, DACA has many economic advantages as well. According to the Huffington Post, these students (usually) have already been through the public-school system; thus, taxpayer dollars have already been spent on their education. At this point, most DACA recipients have jobs, pay taxes and are ready to establish families here. In other words, they live and exist just as a legal citizen would and help their communities.
Conservatives argue, however, that DACA is not constitutional. An opinion piece from The Hill said, “We have the right to decide who comes to the U.S. Even if we doubled our current legal immigration quotas, there would still be people who would enter or remain in the U.S. illegally. Enforcing our immigration laws encourages people to come to the U.S. legally and discourages illegal immigration.”
No matter your leaning on this complicated spectrum or your opinion of DACA, consider the impact on the dreamers themselves if the policy is repealed.
The threat of deportation is emotional and stressful. Many dreamers sought counseling in the wake of Trump’s threat.
Stephanie Mora-DeRosby, a senior staff counselor at the Colorado State University Health Network who is the primary contact for undocumented student counseling, said: “We deal with the deportation stress, the acculturation stress, the immigration stress that’s specifically geared towards the students who are in the DACA program.”
“That’s a specific kind of stress. Other students don’t worry about deportation; they don’t worry acculturation; they don’t worry about their emigration status.”
A video published by The New York Times on Sept. 5, 2017, featured several DACA beneficiaries. Each person gave a brief testimonial on what the repeal would mean for them.
Most of the beneficiaries were in their 20s, and they spent the majority of their formative years in the U.S.
“Before DACA, I always felt like I was in between two worlds.”
“I was born in Honduras, but if I were to go back to Honduras, it’s like I’m foreign to them,” said Heymi Elvir Maldonado.
Repealing DACA, even though some might view the act as supporting an illegal action, would up-end families and working contributors to this country.
Kathleen Harward, an attorney and director at Colorado State University Student Legal Services, assured that the dreamers would have support.
“Mentors, professors, student affairs, colleagues and others across every part of [the CSU] campus provide encouragement and support every day to assure dreamers that they are valued and supported,” she said.
“Whatever happens next, I love this country, and I belong here,” said Bruna Bouhid to The New York Times.
The dreamers will not go down without a fight.