In September, President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and gave Congress until March 5, 2018 to come up with a legislative solution for it. Since 2012, this program has kept roughly 800,000 young immigrants from deportation, allowing them to go to school, work, and contribute in the United States. An additional 1.8 million immigrants qualify for DACA, but for various reasons have been unable to apply.
It’s been six months since the announcement of the President’s deadline for Congressional action, and Dreamers – as these immigrants are commonly known – face more painful uncertainty now than ever. This week Congress will vote on an omnibus spending bill, and it’s imperative that such a bill includes a long-term legislative solution for Dreamers.
The average Dreamer was about six-and-a-half years old when they were brought to this country. Through hard work and a desire to make it in America, Dreamers have become teachers, soldiers, nurses, and engineers. They are Americans in every way but on paper, and like any other American, Dreamers deserve every opportunity to pursue the American dream. Polling shows that over 85 percent of Americans and 79 percent of Republicans believing Congress should protect Dreamers from deportation
Despite hard work, successes, and the lives they’ve made in the United States, Dreamers have been forced to live with fear and worry since President Trump’s decision to end DACA, and those anxieties will only grow until Congress takes action. My friend and fellow Tar Heel, Rubi Franco Quiroz, exemplifies the predicament of most Dreamers today. With graduation looming, she is not spending her time interviewing for jobs or enjoying the final months of her college experience, rather her time is spent worrying over whether she’ll removed from her home and sent to a country she barely remembers. Rubi’s accomplishments and contributions to the Carolina community are too numerous to mention in full, so I’ll have to give you the highlights – Buckley Public Service Scholar, the President of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the recipient of the MLK UNC Student Scholarship and an Honors Carolina Student. Yet if Congress does not act for Dreamers, Rubi could be without a driver’s license, without a lawful work authorization, without a path to permanent legal status or citizenship, and facing the real possibility of being deported to Mexico where she was born.
My family and I also face an uncertain future in America. We came to the United States when I was four, and because of a visa situation that was out of our control, I became an undocumented immigrant around the time I graduated from high school. I’ve lived in North Carolina nearly my entire life, but I’m forced to pay out-of-state tuition at Carolina because of my immigration status. By working multiple jobs and receiving several merit scholarships, I am now close to graduation. But instead of planning for graduate school or plotting the first move in my post-college career, I am fretting over what will happen to Dreamers if Congress does not act on our behalf.