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(No Human Being is Illegal)

Abby McIlraith, Staff Writer

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In 2012, President Obama passed legislation for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This gave immigrant children a chance to live, work, and go to school in the U.S. Without DACA, these children, who are often referred to as “DREAMers” (after the DREAM Act proposal in 2001), would be eligible for deportation.

Photo: “Defend DACA” candlelight vigil at the Hillsboro Civic Center on October 6th. The event featured undocumented student speakers, live music, and poetry reading held the day after the national deadline for status renewal.

I interviewed Mrs. Bosworth, an ESL teacher at Sunset High School who is passionate about this topic, Mrs. Schaer-Arib Sunset French language teacher, and Aiyana Thompson, a Sunset Junior. “I think DACA is a good opportunity for people who were brought here as children…if [they] have been raised here, feel like this is their home, and want to live the American dream, they should be afforded the opportunity.” says Bosworth. Schaer-Arib said; “The benefit is that you are providing education to all students in the U.S. Obviously, as an educator, I want to continue that education.”

The 800,000 DACA beneficiaries in the United States had to renew their status by October 5th, including a $500 application fee with only one month’s notice. The submission collected identifying information about the recipients, including fingerprints, retinal scans, home addresses, and phone numbers. Many people are concerned that this information may be used by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to track down and deport DACA beneficiaries. After two years, those deportation protections and work permits will expire. Meanwhile, those who didn’t submit the renewal in October will effectively lose their authorized status on March 5th, 2018, unless Congress is able to pass new legislation within the next few months to protect them.

Currently, the Democratic side of the U.S. House of Representatives is attempting to have the DREAM Act, first introduced in 2001, be considered for voting. The DREAM Act would fix the hole that DACA’s rescindment opened for both immigrants who have two years and until March, by providing permanent legal status to about 1.6 million DREAMers in the United States. “I think at the time [DACA] was a good way to give people an opportunity which we couldn’t do without, but now it’s falling apart…hopefully with this we will be able to establish something new,” Thompson says.

 

As DACA has become extremely relevant to students today, it is important to explain to those unaffected how DACA’s rescindment will continue to affect students and families.

“I think that we’re very fortunate that [in] the Sunset Community…people have really good intentions, but they don’t know what they don’t know, and so the downside is that people are often unfamiliar with what other people’s lives are like; what other cultures are like,” says Mrs. Bosworth.

Aiyana added; “We have enough students of diverse background to be able to connect and convey what they want to say. This is a school where a lot of kids are coming from privileged backgrounds and they don’t necessarily need to worry about things like this, so [it] will hinder the connection between a student who has their life laid out for them and a student who doesn’t.”

So, how can you help? Many students like you are interested in supporting DREAMers and immigrants, however, you are unsure about how to do so. Simply listening to the stories of those affected, and trying to understand their situation, withholding judgement, can be a powerful option. Mrs. Bosworth suggests; “[When] you are saying something that you really don’t understand, it’s painful to the other person that you’re making assumptions about who they are.”

Mrs. Bosworth highlighted the diversity present in our country as well, and that they should be shared and celebrated. “I think that Multicultural Week could be expanded to mean something more. There are cultures within cultures within cultures in the United States, and if we don’t interact with one another, that’s our weakness,” she says.        

                                                                                                  

An easy way to stay informed and involved is by following activist organizations on social media. Follow, RT, and share these groups to stay on top of important news about DACA, the DREAM Act, and other relevant news.

 

Organization Platforms Description
United We Dream Facebook, Twitter Largest immigrant youth-led organization in the U.S., advocating for dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and their families
Undocumedia Instagram Spreading information for the undocumented community, featuring: “a blend of photos, screenshots of news items, legal advice, and homemade memes.”
National Immigration Law Center Facebook, Twitter Advocacy organization for low-income immigrants and their family members
FWD.us Facebook, Twitter Organization “mobilizing the tech community” to promote policies to improve the immigration system and criminal justice reform
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Facebook, Twitter Sharing DACA-related news and information about protests around the country
CultureStrike Instagram National pro-migrant arts organization, releasing projects depicting lives of undocumented immigrants

 

 

DACA: By the Numbers

(Statistics adapted from Newsweek online: DACA By the Numbers: 15 Facts About the Youth Immigration Program Trump Could Soon Shut Down by Julia Glum)

 

According to the Migration Policy Institute, over one-fourth of the estimated 43 million immigrants in the United States are undocumented.

 

About 788,000 people have had their requests for DACA status accepted, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In a Center for American Progress survey of roughly 3,000 DACA recipients, 90% said they held jobs. Additionally, the average hourly wage of recipients was $17.46 an hour, up from $10.29 before DACA.

The Center for American Progress estimated that, without DACA, the U.S. would lose about $460 billion in GDP in the next decade as well as about 700,000 jobs.

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