Art by Tori Roberts
By Christy Avery
Every year, thousands of children are brought to the United States with undocumented parents. Unable to support themselves or control their circumstances, they run the risk of being deported back to their country because of their parents. Former President Barack Obama implemented a solution: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). A policy that gives children who come to the U.S. under the age of 16 with illegal parents a chance to get relief from deportation, this valuable system is crucial to so many in this nation. But with President Donald Trump now in office, it could spell the end of the program.
Instead of building walls, Trump needs to keep this policy in place and give help to those who need it most.
One advantage of DACA is that children do not age out of the program. This means that he or she could potentially reap the benefits for the rest of his or her life as long as they do not commit a crime or pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Mila Koumpilova, reporter from the Star Tribune in Minnesota, stated that “A national survey of DACA recipients last year found that almost 60 percent obtained a new job, about half opened their first bank account, and 57 percent got a new driver’s license.”
Another benefit DACA brings is the protection from unlawful presence penalties. Normally, immigrants begin accumulating unlawful presence– presence without being admitted or parole– once they turn 18.
However, with DACA in place, the risk is lower– there is no accumulation of unlawful presence, and people with it are considered in authorized stay. This is true for the deferred action period as well, so the renewal process does not do any harm.
Of course, no policy is perfect. DACA has a couple of glaring problems– one being that even though people under it are considered lawfully present in the U.S., they have no nonimmigrant or immigrant status. This runs the risk of one being wrongfully denied employment or other benefits.
However, if this were to change, DACA would be even better for the recipients. DACA currently safeguards nearly 790,000 people, according to the Pew Research Center.
A possible solution for this is to carve a bigger path to permanent residence for those who wish to remain in the U.S. For example, ensuring that those who are eligible receive or try to receive green cards or visas in their lifetime.
By throwing away DACA, the Trump Administration is throwing away thousands of hard-working, much-needed individuals who could help the country and themselves if they were to receive it. Innocent people should not be punished or barred from reaping the benefits that come with such an affluent and advanced country.
In 2010, it was measured that approximately 40 million people living in the United States were foreign-born. Is it even possible to imagine a country without them? That number will only keep increasing no matter the sanctions against it. Our country should be a place where those who deserve to be here are here, where everyone is given an equal chance.
As Jane Novak at CNBC said, “If executed properly…Washington leadership could come to a deal that shows proper compassion, boosts security, and makes economic sense.”