There is a dream that is at stake of being eliminated in our country. That dream is DACA. 80,000 of the people around us are living in fear of leaving the only place they call home, they are called the DREAMers. It is up to us, citizens with legal documentation, to stand up for these people whose voices aren’t being heard.
DREAMers are the recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). They are your fellow peers, people you’ve grown up with, who’ve served at our schools, payed our taxes, and lived their lives alongside us.
In fact, they are American in every single way, but they lack the legal documentation. These people fall between the ages of 16-35. For most of them, the United States is the only home they know. They speak this nation’s language and they contribute to this society. They were brought to the United States at a very young age by their undocumented parents and remained in the country. They have a dream that is being stripped away from them that we must strive to protect. Their dream is simply to stay and serve in the country they call their home.
DACA is a program that was introduced in 2012 under the Obama Administration that would serve as a shield for undocumented people who were brought into the States as children. This status does not provide a pathway to citizenship, instead serving to protect these people, allowing them permission to stay in the United States as they pursue higher education, serve in the military, or decide to go straight into the workforce. This status also provides the DREAMers with many other benefits that they would otherwise not be able to receive.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration ended DACA in September, and Trump has asked both parties in congress to come up with a new replacement before March, when the termination of DACA will be executed. (Romo, 2017). If congress does not come to a consensus about the DREAMers then their future in this country is at stake and they face a very real fear of deportation back to countries many of them have little to no knowledge of.
They are like us. Nothing separates native-born Americans with undocumented Americans except the legal documentation. For most of these people English is the only language they speak. I have met families who have tried to come into the country legally and have failed time and time again. Legal documentation does not separate me from others who lack it. This is their home as much as it is mine, some of them even contribute more than other citizens like myself. Their dream is the same as ours- to make America lovely, diverse, and a place where one can have a fruitful future.
One of my dear friends is 20 years old. She attends Texas A&M and is pursuing her degree in engineering. She moved to the States from Nicaragua when she was 5. She has volunteered countless hours in her community, served at camps, held jobs that serve others, all because of DACA. Her desire is to be able to serve this country, and DACA has allowed her to do that thus far. However, as the March date gets closer, her fear increases, and her dreams become dimmer.
Some of our government leaders believe that these people are rapists, murderers, drug traffickers, or people who allegedly steal our jobs, and that DACA allows these people free ride towards citizenship. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. DACA does not protect criminals from deportation and there are limits to the benefits of DACA that include convictions of felonies and other misdemeanors.
In reality, more than 75% of DACA recipients are employed. They attend our college and universities and serve in our military. If these recipients were to get deported, the United States would lose $460 billion in the span of a decade. (Shear, 2017). These people are making notable contributions to our country, and they are not only wanted here, they are needed.
We must protect their dream, because it is also our dream. If we lose these individuals we don’t only lose talented people who make positive impacts to the American society, but we lose our neighbors and friends. Today’s Dreamers deserve the same chance I got. Congress must strive to protect this act, for the sake of preserving the life of tens of thousands young immigrants who are valuable to our society.
Amy Carolina Pereira is the survivor support chair for Standing Together Against Rape & Sexual Assault (STARS) and chaplain Alpha Xi Delta.