Growing up in Durham, a city known and valued for its diversity, provided me with the opportunity to make friends and become acquainted with people from various backgrounds, religions, political beliefs, etc. I have loved living in a place that constantly challenges my ideas and politics, and hearing personal testimonies from friends and others, has impacted me a great deal regarding immigration.
Ever since Donald Trump was elected president this past fall, the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) did not look hopeful because one of his main platform points was removing DACA. This past week, Trump stated that in the next six months he plans on ending the program.
DACA is a program that was created in 2012 by the Obama administration that allows young undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States. If they were under the age of 31 in 2012 and came into the States before they were 16 years old, all they need to do is apply.
However, other restrictions include, completing an education whether they are currently enrolled in school, have a high school diploma, have completed military service, have been enrolled in trade school, or have gotten their General Education Development (GED), having not been convicted of a felony, specific misdemeanors, or 3+ misdemeanors, and having lived in the United States since 2007.
In the application, the young immigrant provides proper documentation and evidence for all of the requirements, photos, and fees totaling $495, and they are strongly recommended to have an attorney aid them through this process. These young immigrants must also reapply to renew this work permit every two years when it expires.
So, three reasons why Americans should want to keep DACA are . . .
1.These immigrants are helping our economy.
If you are all about the logical argument (which I admit I am too a lot of the time), it can all come down to numbers. There are around 800,000 undocumented young immigrants using the DACA program. After obtaining an education, these immigrants are entering the workforce, buying goods, pursuing higher educations to get better jobs to make more money, paying taxes, and becoming entrepreneurs.
All of these actions have helped grow the United States’ economy, benefiting them and you. A study by the Center for American Progress has “calculated that ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, cumulatively over a decade.” Ending DACA would have a drastic negative effect on the economy, which would directly harm the average American’s economic well-being.
2. These “Dreamers” are law-abiding immigrants that just want a better life.
These young immigrants must have virtually clean police records and attend school to later on get jobs, making them positive contributors to American society. They have come here to live out the American dream and are actually under-represented in incarceration rates based proportionally on population.
The CATO Institute, “estimate[s] that DREAMers had an incarceration rate of 0.98 percent in 2015 compared to a native-born incarceration rate of 1.12 percent.” Dreamers are less likely to commit crimes than those their age that are born in America, and “DACA-ineligible illegal immigrants . . . are even less likely to be incarcerated.” Dreamers are contributing more to society than many native-born Americans, and it is well past time for us to realize this.
3. Their courage is something that America should be proud of.
Dreamers’ bravery and boldness is inspiring, whether posting their citizenship status on social media or attending protests alongside native-born allies, they are standing up loud and proud to let us know that they belong here. Educating the American people about DACA by separating the truths from the lies regarding the program is essential in getting more people on the right side of history.
In the past, Americans and immigrants have come together to protest and demand for civil rights and to keep or change social programs like DACA. The United States has always been proud of its unique heritage that consisted of people from all over the world traveling here to a land of dreams to start fresh as equals with similar values.
If keeping immigrant families together is not a good enough reason for you to want the DACA program to be continued, then how about the immigrants that are deported to their deaths? According to the Guardian, they have, “confirmed three separate cases of Honduran men who have been gunned down shortly after being deported by the U.S. government.”
These are just a few of the many examples of gangs killing deportees among arriving in their home countries that have been tracked down and reported. They came to the United States hoping and seeking for safety, only to be rejected and placed directly back into violence that they were trying to escape.
We, the American people, must get out there and protest alongside our fellow immigrant neighbors, friends, and strangers because we are all descendants of immigrants or are immigrants ourselves - some of us just arrived earlier and from farther places than others.