You may have heard the acronym DACA popping up over the past few days, weeks, or months. You might know it has something to do with immigrants and maybe something about dreams. However, you know you are safe. You don’t know any undocumented immigrants or DACA recipients. You are in the beginning of your fall semester and really need to get back to studying/writing papers/meeting that cute girl you keep seeing at the UC, etc.
Agreed about the studying and meeting of said cute girl. False to not being impacted by the termination of DACA.
You definitely know undocumented immigrants and perhaps even some DACA recipients, whether you realize it or not. These people are your teachers, classmates, and friends. We are not talking about random people (although random people still deserve equity and respect). We are talking about people you know. People who now need your help.
What is DACA?
DACA stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It allows temporary safety to young adults who were brought to the United States as children by undocumented parents. The people being offered temporary safety under DACA are commonly referred to as “dreamers”, based on the DREAM Act which offered permanent resident status for people who completed 2 years of college or service in the military (American Immigration Council, 2012).
How many dreamers are there?
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (2017) there are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients in the U.S.
How does DACA help dreamers?
DACA allows young adults who were brought to the United Stated as children to live lives without the fear of deportation. With DACA, dreamers are allowed to get drivers’ licenses, be legally hired, apply for a social security number and attend colleges, like Southeast (Leimer, 2015). The DACA grant must be renewed every two years.
How does someone get accepted to DACA?
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (2017), people are eligible for DACA consideration if they fit the following criteria:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
While it is clear there are a lot of criteria that must be met in order to receive a DACA grant and DACA sounds like it might be helping people, how does it directly impact Southeast students? There is no better way to learn than to hear directly from people who are experiencing the very thing you are trying to understand. That is where our anonymous Southeast Missouri State University graduate comes in. They agreed to be interviewed so that the Southeast community could gain a better understanding of exactly how DACA impacts all of us.
Who are you?
I am currently an academic counselor at a university in Louisiana. I have a Master of Arts degree from Southeast Missouri State University in Mental Health Counseling. I was born in Bangladesh and came to the United States when I was only 4 years old.
How is DACA relevant to you?
I am a DACA recipient. After living through Hurricane Katrina, I lost legal status in the United States due to a series of unexpected and unfortunate events, many beyond my control. When DACA was put into motion in 2012, I hurried to apply and was subsequently granted an Employment Authorization Document, which gave me the legal ability to work.
Until that time, I was working two to three jobs with the fear that I would get caught and potentially deported back to my birth country, a place I’ve never visited since immigrating to the United States. DACA has given me the ability to continue working, pursue higher educational endeavors, and ultimately help those around me through the skills I’ve learned.
How could losing DACA impact you?
Without DACA, I will lose the ability to legally work, attend school, and pursue a career that I want to do what I can for the only country I know. I will be unable to support my family, I will be unable to offer my skills to the countless amount of individuals I wish to help, and I may be sent back to my birth country if that is so decreed. The numerous jobs I’ve worked, the ladders I’ve climbed, the degrees I’ve obtained, and the experiences
I’ve so coveted and attained will be for nothing if DACA is completely shut down and taken away. Although many of the 800,000 DACA recipients hold our backgrounds, traditions, and cultures in high regards, the United States is the only home we know. Our immediate families are here, our friends are here, our livelihoods are here, and this is the land of opportunity we have come to love.
What do you wish people knew about DACA?
I wish people knew that we who are protected under DACA are hardworking individuals who pursue the same dreams you do, albeit with fear at our backs. We have tried making much with the little amount we’ve been given; never taking, but always seeking ways to do well with the hand that we were dealt. We lived in shadows for years, and came out of the shadows in order to legally right our status in the United States. We did not come out of hiding to take away anything of yours, but to offer another hand at making this the prosperous and welcoming America that we know and love. Most DACA recipients have continued to excel in reaching their respective goals, whether it is attending school, obtaining a job, or living a good life without having to hide in the shadows. We are more like you than not, and we are thankful for the opportunities we have been given thus far.
What can I do about the termination of DACA?
Now you have read the who, what, how, and why of the impact of the termination of DACA. You might be asking, “What can I do? I’m just a college student”. You are not “just” anything, I say! You are the very person to help create change. You can start by finding about if those around you are impacted by the end of DACA. You might be surprised to learn that people you know and love are in a state of terror, scrambling to figure out how and if they can stay in the Southeast community. Contact your government representatives and ask them to pass the DREAM Act of 2017. Donate to organizations that are heling dreamers such as “United We Dream”. And continue this conversation (albeit without me pretending to be you by asking myself questions, like in the blog) with your friends, family, churches, classes, and more. Let people know how the end of DACA can hurt all of us. Use your voice to fight for those who cannot use their own. Let your voice be heard.