Dreamers, a Step Closer or Caught in Limbo?
Mary Ramirez remembers crossing the Arizona desert with her parents in the middle of the night, and slipping past a Border Patrol car gassing up at a filling station. She was 6-years-old at the time.
Hector Perez remembers not being able to get a driver license or a decent job after graduation.
Eva Galindo’s mission is to become the first person in her family to become a college graduate.
To the shock, anger and anxiety of 800,000 Dreamers, President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise last month: repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA immigration initiative instituted by the Obama administration in 2012 affects children and teens that entered the U.S. illegally before mid-2007 with their parents.
Since the moment Trump took office, those Dreamers’ aspirations have been suspended in a legal limbo.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” Trump said in a statement. “But we must also recognize that we are a nationof opportunity, because we are a nation of laws.”
Trump says President Barack Obama overstepped his constitutional authority by bypassing Congress to create the DACA plan.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program does not offer lawful immigration status. Instead, it grants a deferral from deportation to qualified individuals and offered work permits for a two-year period, which can be renewed every two-years. However, if Trump has his way, many feel on March 2018, DACA will become an answer to a trivia question. Even though he seemed to slightly bend after meeting with top democratic leaders on Sept. 13, claiming he could support legislation to protect “Dreamers,” if it were accompanied by a wall-free southern border security upgrade. Deal or no deal, political insiders say, Trump has to work with Democrats and members of his own party, to reach any kind of legislative solution.
Breaking It Down
So what are the ABCs of DACA?
•Dreamers could apply for protection from deportation and work permits if they meet the following requirements:
•Those under the age of 16 who entered the country with their parents.
•ndividuals who are older than 31 as of June 15, 2012
•Youths who have lived continuously in the U.S. since mid-2007
•Youth who are enrolled in high school/college, or have a diploma, degree, or GED
•Individuals who were an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. military
•No felony, misdemeanor or criminal convictions
“We’re not criminals and we’re not going anywhere,” says a Dreamer who’s been in the U.S. since she was 3-years-old. “My family didn’t plan to be undocumented, but that’s what we became when we arrived here.”
Trump’s America First
Trump added that he is looking forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to address immigration issues “in a manner that puts the hardworking citizens of our country first.’
Famous for his Tweets, Trump punctuated his DACA decision by tweeting, “Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA.”
Former President Barack Obama called Trump’s actions “cruel” and “self-defeating.” “Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” Obama posted on his Facebook page. “Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer concurred, calling Trump’s decision “heartless.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a DACA critic and adversary from the policy’s conception, called DACA “unilateral executive amnesty,” and said the Obama administration “deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”
“DACA denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Sessions said, “by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs. We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple.”
However, most if not all Dreamers will say their families came here to give them a better life, and they need a permanent solution.
You just cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube. Political insiders and law enforcement officials say it’s impractical, if not impossible, to simply round up the usual suspects – 800,000 in fact, 17,000 of which are estimated to live in Colorado.
Dreamers will tell anyone, as with all young people in the U.S., they want the American Dream. They work hard, attend school, and are not looking for a free ride. They are Americans, and don’t want to be sent back to a country they don’t remember. The United States is all many Dreamers know.
Six Dreamers in California, one of which is an immigration lawyer, was brought to the United States illegally by her parents, have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration.
Dulce Garcia filed her case in San Francisco federal court, right after Sessions announced the Obama-era policy would start winding down in March 2018.
Closer to home, on Sept. 5, an estimated 2,500 Dreamers and supporters as far away as La Junta, Colorado, and as close as West and North High Schools, peacefully descended upon the Auraria campus to protest the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA. Many Dreamers took to a stage and told an emotional crowd about their experiences, and hardships of living in Mexico and other countries.
The following day, newly hired MSU Denver President Janine Davidson, issued a campus-wide email after Session’s announcement stating that the news is disappointing and that DACA students and employees are valuable contributors to our learning community and among the hardest workers we have on campus.
“We value our DACA students and employees and we stand with them,” Davidson writes. “They have come to MSU Denver to better their lives, families and communities; in short, to achieve the American dream. I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that they can continue to do so.”
Across town, Trump’s decision prompted Denver Public School Superintendent Tom Boasberg to say in a statement, “Today’s decision by the Trump Administration to end the DACA program is shortsighted, misguided and deeply harmful to the DPS community.”
Boasberg added, we are all dreamers, and our nation was built by dreamers from all around the globe. America’s open arms have made us richer, stronger and kinder.
“Our DACA students,” Boasberg writes, “many of whom have been in DPS virtually their entire lives, have extraordinary talents and potential to contribute to our community. Our community has already invested much in their education and has so much to gain by fully including them rather than excluding them.”
Boasberg says DPS officials will continue to stand up and speak out – with our students and educators, and for them – for a brighter future in a nation that is not darkened by fear.
“Instead, we need to continue,” he says, “with strong and open arms, to build a great nation that it is lifted up by the hopes and dreams of all of our people.”
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock says, “There are 800,000 youth living in the United States that know no other country but this one. They didn’t choose to be here, but they are here – contributing to this country and making good on the opportunity to pursue the American dream. Ripping them from the only home and life they’ve ever known is a cruel action unbefitting of this great nation. If the President chooses to forfeit his moral leadership with this heartless attempt to score political points, then it’s up to the House of Representatives and Senate to show all Americans that we can still govern with compassion. It’s time for a bipartisan action to protect our DACA youth, and I urge all members of Colorado’s congressional delegation to support that legislation.”
Hide and Watch
After being sworn into office, Trump told ABC News, that he expressed some compassion toward DACA recipients.
“They shouldn’t be very worried,” Trump said. “I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”.
Cover: An estimated 2,500 people, including students who walked out of class gathered in support of DACA. Photo by Lauren Cordova;
Inset 1: The crowd cheers as Speaker and Field Director for Padres & Jóvenes Unidos Monica Acosta and DACA recipient says, “Over the last 28 years I have called this country my home and I am not going anywhere.” Acosta came to the U.S. at the age of three. Photo by Lauren Cordova;
Inset 2: Auraria Campus, Former SGA, Christian Solano Cordoba, encourages others to fight for the Dream Act. Photo by Ali Watkins;
Inset 3: Speaker at the Emergency DACA Walk-Out and Rally, Victor Galvan rallies the crowd in a chant on the Tivoli quad on Sept. 5. Photo by Lauren Cordova