Dreams deferred

DACA cancellation puts ETHS DREAMers at risk

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Dreams deferred

Photo by Zinnia Schwartz

Photo by Zinnia Schwartz

Photo by Zinnia Schwartz

Photo by Zinnia Schwartz

Mac Stone, News Editor

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            In an attempt to fix America’s longtime immigration issue, President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security put an expiration date on DACA, one of America’s largest immigration policies.

DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was put in place by the Obama administration in June 2012. The policy allowed individuals who were brought into the United States illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action protecting them from deportation. The policy also allowed for those enrolled to be eligible for a work permit.

“DACA protects our young people from being deported,” Post-Secondary Counselor and DREAMers Club Co-Sponsor Michelle Vasquez explained. “Their status must be in good standing so they’re able to work, so they can have a driver’s license, the list goes on and on.”

DREAMers Club is a club that allows undocumented immigrants to tell their stories and have a safe space to speak their minds. The origin of the DREAMers came from the DREAM Act, which was passed in 2001. The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) protected many immigrants who were brought into the United States under the age of 18. While not all people under the DREAM Act are affected by the cancellation of DACA, plenty of people are still nervous for the future.

According to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, 266,377 requests were made to either renew or enroll in DACA for the first time in 2017, and 242,979 of these requests were accepted. This brought the total number of requests to renew or enroll in DACA up to 1.9 million, with around 1.8 million of these requests being accepted over the four and a half year period of DACA being in place. With the cancellation of DACA, nearly 1.9 million people could potentially be at risk of deportation.

“The people who were brought over the border as young children and were raised in the United States,” junior Noah Feldman said. “They’ve lived here for as long as I have and are just as American as I am. If they don’t have the right to live here, neither do I.”

It’s important to note that DACA doesn’t expire right away. Back in 2016, the Supreme Court announced a 4-4 split decision in a case challenging President Obama’s ambitious plan to protect as many as five million illegal immigrants from deportation. While the original DACA policy is now being rescinded, President Trump has given Congress six months to provide a legislative fix, and this could prove crucial in providing a solution to DREAMers who are nervous for the future.

“The tone since the announcement that DACA was being ended is fear, a sense of hopelessness, and a sense of betrayal by the government,” Vasquez said. “There’s lots of concern, there’s sadness, there’s just so much that DREAMers and their families can’t control, and that’s upsetting to a lot of people.”

ETHS and District 202 have had a plan in place for a change in policies since January. On Jan. 17, the District 202 Board of Education reached an agreement on the Safe Haven School District Resolution, which declares ETHS to be a safe haven for students and families threatened by immigration enforcement and discrimination.

“We are going to do everything that we can legally do to make this a safe place for our students,” Superintendent Eric Witherspoon explained. “We know that we have DREAMers in this school, and we know that they have been very active citizens in this country, so we don’t want them to feel that the school is unsafe.”

On top of that, the resolution specifically states that no ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers are allowed into ETHS for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws unless the Superintendent determines that the requested entry is required by law.

“The only way [an ICE agent] could come into this school is if there were a court order, and even then, it would have to be shown to me, the Superintendent,” Witherspoon explained. “We want to make it really clear that we won’t provide them with any information and that ETHS isn’t a place where they can just walk in.”

While the rescinding of DACA doesn’t directly affect everyone, many people across America have stood up and protested against the cancellation in major cities like Chicago, Las Vegas, and Oakland. However, many believe there isn’t a lot people can do.

“The worst part is there isn’t much we can do. Obviously, we need to speak up. We live in a representative democracy so the best thing we can do is go to our representatives and explain to them that we are a nation of immigrants,” senior Katie Sullivan said. “Why should we kick people out of a country that for most of them is the only home they’ve ever known?”

The ultimate rescinding of the DACA policy puts many ETHS DREAMers and DREAMers across the nation at risk of deportation. Some people believe that this is the best way, while others believe more opportunities should be put on the table. The United States is divided on the issue, and while Congress has six months to provide a fix, the ultimate fate of DACA is, at the moment, unknown.

For additional information on DACA and ways to help those who are affected, please visit https://unitedwedream.org/daca-renewal-plan/.