Dreamers Face Deportation with the End of DACA

Dallas Johnson, Editor

The current administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program on Sept. 5. Congress has six months to pass legislation to try and keep the policy intact. After the six-month period, President Donald Trump will revisit the issue if a new plan isn’t constructed.

For students with undocumented family members, nerves run high.

“When I got the news alert message on my phone about the program ending, my heart dropped,” an anonymous junior said. “I screenshot the picture asking my sister, who is illegal, if it was true. The confirmation given from her made one of my deepest fears of losing her closer to a reality. “

DACA was created by the executive orders from former president Barak Obama during the year 2012. The program was designed to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation and also allows them to work legally in the United States for a period of two years. As these “dreamers,” estimated to include 800,000, anticipate that deportation might be near, some line up to defend the order.

“These minors broke the law unknowingly (so) the government shouldn’t punish them for the actions of their parents,” teacher Juan Garcia said. “I understand that we face a dilemma because the law says illegal immigrants shouldn’t be allowed to stay in the country but an exception should be made in their case. Many of these kids have been here since they were babies, this is the only home they have ever known.”

The announcement of the end of DACA means the government will no longer accept any new applicants trying to get in the program. DACA members who have less than five months remaining on their current DACA protection have until Oct. 5 to renew their status or face deportation. Individuals who have more than six months remaining of protection still are at a high risk of losing their benefits if the administration decides to completely terminate the program on March 5, 2018.

“I believe that the program was great for those who qualified,” the junior said. “It opened door(s) and gave a lot of opportunity for young people trying to improve their lives. It sucks that all of their hard work may be lost with the law change.”

The Center for American Progress did a study which estimated the total loss of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) if the members of DACA were excluded from the workforce. The study concluded that America would lose around $433 billion over the course of 10 years if plans of mass deportation begins for those once protected under the program.

“In a way, we have to be grateful that many undocumented people take the jobs that nobody wants in this country and that makes our economy more stable,” Garcia said. “If it weren’t for their hard-working efforts in agriculture and other labor jobs, every American would be forced to pay increased prices for daily necessities like food.”

Illegal immigrants aren’t allowed to receive any federal financial aid for college and are usually forced to pay out of state tuition due to the lack of U.S. citizenship. DACA gives its members social security numbers which allows them to apply for FAFSA and obtain state or college aid at some universities.

“If they’re a great student then they should receive what they deserve, an education,” Garcia said.

According to the American Immigration Center’s website, applicants trying to obtain a visa must undergo a lengthy application process that usually takes a year to complete. If the applicant meets the required residence time of five years, has the financial fees, passes the citizenship test and interview, then they will become a U.S. citizen.

“We spent months completing all of the paperwork to get my grandmother in the country legally,” a senior said. “My mother invested a lot of time making sure everything was filled out correctly. One error on the form and the whole process must (be) start over. She took time off work going up to the office submitting everything and paid all the application fees but at the end of the process, my grandmother was denied and not allowed to move here.”

Those who can’t afford the cost of becoming an American citizen take alternative routes to remain in the country.

“The only reason why my sister decided to get married so early was to gain papers,” a junior said. “It wasn’t the big dream wedding she had always planned on having since she was little, instead of her crying tears of joy in a fancy church her eyes rained fear of the unknown while in the courthouse.”

Some students fear speaking out on the issue.

“Although I’m against Trump’s decision, I can’t speak openly about it on the streets,” the junior said. “I don’t want to bring any unnecessary attention to my family. If my actions caused my other family members to be deported, I couldn’t live with myself.”

Even though some are worried that the Trump administration will end DACA if Congress does not come to an agreement on new legislation, teacher Marlene Thrasher hopes Trump will keep his promises to tighten up immigration laws.

“I expected him to keep the promise that he made to us during his campaign,” Thrasher said.  “The United States does not have an obligation to support illegal immigrants who broke the law to come to this country.”

The junior said she has also seen the stress of Trump’s decisions affect her performance at school.

“It’s just been a very challenging week for me,” she said. “Helping my family try and prepare for what’s to come in the future has really put a toll on me emotionally. I haven’t been able to focus on classwork and now I’m failing four of my classes.”

Students who need support on these issues can see their counselor.

“We have a staff that loves helping teenagers,” Principal Derrell Douglas said. “Our counselors and teachers have built relationships with their students. Hopefully, students are comfortable with them in tough situations so that our staff can provide guidance.”

He said that he wants education to be students’ top priority.

“I became an educator because I want to help kids,” Douglas said. “I don’t get into their citizenship status. If they’re enrolled at Timberview then I’m here to meet their needs. If they’re at Timberview, then they are wolves and we’ll treat them like Timberview Wolves.”