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Dreamers fear for their future

As Trump begins to dismantle DACA, students are unsure of their options

Binqi Chen, Co-Editor in Chief

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Walking into school, senior Nancy (her real name withheld for privacy) feels the invisible eyes on her. During class, she is shaken up by every knock on the door and every phone call that comes in, afraid that someone might send her to the office for questioning.

Her paranoia heightens from class to class; avoiding eye contact with whomever she feels might somehow know of her immigration status. Nancy, along with 800,000 other people, and dozens of AHS students, are DREAMers protected under DACA.

DREAMers are the name given to those protected under DACA, or the Deferred Action of for Childhood Arrivals. The name derives from the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), proposed to Congress in 2001.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced the end to this protection in a statement,and later, in a briefing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department.
While on the campaign trail last year, Trump had been vocal about ending DACA. He had vowed to completely dismantle the program once he took.

President Trump finalized his decision after receiving a letter from 10 Republican attorneys general threatening to begin a lawsuit against DACA if a decision was not made by Sept 5.

DACA will now be completely phased out within the next six months.
DACA itself is a policy established and enacted in 2012 by the Obama administration that provides relief for a certain group of undocumented immigrants. It offered legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents at a young age.

In tweets, a week following his decision, the President offered a more comforting tone to DACA recipients by saying “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” and “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age.”

“When I first heard that Trump had ended DACA I immediately broke down into tears,” Nancy said. “All my plans for the future had just disappeared as if I was sailing into the ocean and a storm wiped out my boat.”

Nancy, who is originally from Bolivia, knows only the United States as her home. She was brought to the U.S. when she was only a year old. At school, she is a well rounded student and is involved in multiple varsity sports and clubs. Nancy also takes multiple IB classes, enlisting herself in some of the most challenging and rigorous classes AHS has to offer.

However, this was not always the case. Nancy, like many other DREAMers, did not find out that she was undocumented until she was 15 years old. “I kept asking my parents to go get my driving permit, but they kept making excuses about it,” Nancy said. “Finally, they pulled out a folder with ‘DACA’ written in black sharpie.”
Unaware that she was undocumented, she didn’t see the value in obtaining high grades in school. During her freshman and sophomore year, Nancy earned poor grades, resulting in a drop in her overall grade point average.

“I didn’t apply myself that much into school,” Nancy said. “Now knowing that I am undocumented and that I would have a harder chance of getting into college, I would have definitely tried much harder [in school].”

Nancy has seen the struggles that her family had experienced without the support of DACA and wants to become the changing factor in this legacy.

Her parents were absent for portions of her childhood. They always told her that they had to work and couldn’t attend any of her school events. This ultimately caused tension within the family.
Unbeknown to Nancy, both of her parents had picked up two additional jobs. They were constantly commuting between work and home, trying to provide the most for Nancy and her three other sisters. Her siblings, who are also undocumented, were participating in programs at the time dedicated to helping undocumented immigrants.

Nancy was initially overwhelmed by confusion and frustration as to why her parents told her about her DACA status so late. She felt as she was tangled up and living what she called a “double life.” This news came as the missing link that connected previous unclear parts of her life together.

Before its retraction, DACA was eligible to 1.1 million people in the United States. However, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration services, this executive action protected 788,000 immigrants out of the 11 million undocumented persons in America.
Those granted permission to stay in the United States had to renew their enrollment in the program every two years. Most DACA recipients arrive from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

There were also several thousand recipients of Asian descent.
The program gives immigrants a chance to come out of the shadows and obtain their driver’s licenses and other credentials. However, contrary to popular belief, DACA does not grant its recipients a pathway to citizenship.

DACA also does not permit students to apply for financial aid when going to college. Nancy’s older sisters were offered partial scholarships to attend in-state universities.
However, even with the financial help, they still could not afford the demanding tuition.

“They didn’t end up going to the schools they wanted to go to and pursue the dream they wanted to,” Nancy said. “It took a lot of time, but now with DACA, they were able to become professionals.”
Under DACA, undocumented immigrants who arrived in United States before the age of 16 by their parents, were able to obtain a temporary reprieve from deportation. With this reprieve, these young people agreed to either work and contribute to society, join the armed services, or to continue furthering their education.
Nancy’s sisters did just that, and she hopes to follow in their footsteps.

“DACA has helped me with almost everything in the past two years because since then I have gotten my license and a worker’s permit,” Nancy said. “I was also able to apply for scholarships now entering my senior year.”

As of now, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will continue to process all new applications they have received before Sept. 5.

The federal government will also not revoke any existing deferred action. Trump has also said that he has advised law enforcement that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are involved in criminal activities.

The President’s decision to end DACA has received mix reactions from both sides of the aisle. Democrats have come out in unison against the call. More than 1,800 governors, attorneys general, mayors, state representatives, judges, police chiefs and other leaders signed onto a letter supporting DACA recipients. Although many conservative politicians have been long against Obama’s initial proposal, this issue has divided the Republican Party.

Republican Senators such as Marco Rubio, John McCain, and Jeff Flake announced their opposition to Trump’s decision to end the DACA program. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced in a statement that he hopes Congress will create a better solution to Obama’s.

Democratic Senate Whip Dick Durbin and DACA has helped me with almost everything in the past two years because since then I have gotten my license and a worker’s permit Senator Lindsey Graham have also called for a DREAM Act together.
In the lives of students like Nancy, the impacts of DACA ending strikes too close to home. For the most part, she has kept her immigration status on the down-low. Only her closest friend and a few teachers know about her immigration status.
“Sometimes my friends will make jokes about the stereotypes of immigrants or automatically assume every person who is undocumented is Mexican which is very uncultured of them,”Nancy said.
She often feels stuck in awkward situation because she does not know how to respond and criticize those comments without exposing her own undocumentation.

Due to the lack of support she has gotten at school, Nancy has been confiding in a program called the DREAM PROJECT for the last two years with 50 other DACA recipients.

“My counselor doesn’t even know about my situation and status because I am afraid that she just won’t understand,” Nancy said. “I just have to stay on top of my school work and keep my faith until a new law comes out.”

For now, all Nancy can do is hope.

 

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The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.
Dreamers fear for their future