DACA: Should more or less be done?

I have my qualms about President Obama, but I remember the morning he gave this speech and feeling only admiration towards him for his words of compassion and hope:

Watch if you’re interested in what the President had to say!

On June 15, 2012, a memorandum was passed that defers removal action against individuals who meet the following requirements:

  • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Came to the United States before 16th birthday
  • Have continuous presence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
  • Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of applying for DACA
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
  • Currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a GED, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety

(Source)

Since August 15, 2012, when the USCIS released the DACA application forms, thousands have applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process, but not nearly as many as originally anticipated. Applications for DACA are slowing and an article from ColorLines (← click to read!), a daily news site focused on racial justice powered through Race Forward, expresses concern that the program is already showing its weaknesses only a year later.

Studies from the Migration Policy Institute show that, “nearly half of the undocumented immigrants believed to be eligible for DACA do not meet the educational requirements, and that there are 392,000 young people who are about to turn 16 and thus come of age for DACA who are not currently being counted.” The article, titled “Three Faces of DACA”, also includes the very different stories and testimonies of 3 undocumented youth and their experiences with the Deferred Action process.

However, the ways DACA has helped a number of undocumented youth in the United States should not be ignored. In Oregon, DACA recipients are now eligible for drivers licenses as well as in-state tuition and many other states are fighting for financial aid eligibility for undocumented youth. In addition, DACA has opened up a national discussion about the right to education and to immigration reform.

I see DACA as a great step towards a solution, but a real solution must be achieved before more young people fall through the cracks. While fixing or expanding DACA may help individuals now, we need immigration reform or at least the passing of the DREAM Act (which has been shut down a number of times in the both the Senate and the House since 2001).  With Comprehensive Immigration Reform struggling in the House, many youth who have received DACA will be inching towards the expiration date on the 2-year  Deferred Action program without any naturalization options in place.  Currently, apart from marrying a U.S. citizen, there are no pathways to citizenship for young people brought to the U.S. illegally.

I think more needs to be done to help these young people, but many would disagree. Do you feel more should be done to help undocumented youth, or do you feel we’re already doing too much? What are your thoughts on this program and on DACA recipients’ eligibility for drivers licenses/in-state tuition/financial aid? What is your response to the 3 stories from real undocumented youth in “Three Faces of DACA”?

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6 thoughts on “DACA: Should more or less be done?

  1. I love this insightful post on DACA. Obama’s speech was definitely inspiring to me – and shed some light on a subject I haven’t learned much about until now. I also really love the article you posted, “Three Faces of DACA” by Von Diaz. I loved reading and listening to the three different perspectives of these immigrant students. I can see both sides of the DACA story.

    After reading and watching more videos on the DREAM Act, I am skeptical about the politics behind it. The article “An Immigration Order in June, With an Eye to November” suggests that Obama used Immigration Reform to better his campaign and gain the 21.7 million Hispanic votes. I truly hope this isn’t the case and he is dedicated to reforming Immigration laws to better serve all of us living in America, legally or illegally.

    I hope to see more positive news on this reform and will definitely be voting for it in the future!

  2. I do believe that DACA is just the beginning for undocumented youth. It is obviously not the entire solution but it is a great start. I do agree that undocumented workers and the youth should be able to have drivers licenses. I know in Oregon they already have them. They do look a little different though. If people have been here since they were young as seen in the cases of the people from “3 faces of DACA” they should be given the right to have the resources like everyone else. They should not penalized because their parents did not take the appropriate channels. If these students are going to continue to keep working as hard as they are why take that away from them?

    • I agree with you that if these now adults have been here since childhood they should be given the same resources as everyone else. I also agree with you that they shouldn’t be penalized because it technically wasn’t their choice as children to come to this new place. Since the presentation on Friday briefly talked about the FAIR act that is against the DREAM Act it made me wonder if there should be some sort of punishment for the family that brought the children here illegally. Do you believe there should be a fine or is it something that should be overlooked?

      • Thanks for your insight Jehadi. I also agree that children raised in America shouldn’t be penalized for being here, especially under circumstances they are completely niave to. I look forward to the DREAM act and efforts of DACA to break the boundaries of STUDENT immigrants’ so that they are able to have basic privileges of any American. I think it’s sad that some children have to suffer under these types of harsh circumstances when they haven’t committed any serious crimes.

        I understand the perspective of the FAIR act and I’m not sure of the specific laws laid out for immigrants. But I do believe that laws should be followed. Adults in general should have the responsibility in abiding the law. Therefore if immigrants overstay their visas, it seems reasonable for them to be fined. Instead of immediate deportation, I think there should be a system that builds up to such an extreme discipline.

  3. Hello Rocielle,
    Thank you for being so informative on this topic. I did not know very much about the DREAM ACT before this week. I always assumed that if some one was raised in America and if they went to school here, then there wasn’t an issue. I really think it becomes a human rights issue when we deny American rights to people who identify and have lived their lives as American. I think we should do more. I think everyone should be able to obtain a drivers license and gain an education. How is anyone supposed to be successful in life if they can’t?

  4. Thanks for your post. I think more definitely needs to be done in congress. I appreciate the President support for a better immigration policy. Lately, has been more issues brought to my attention that needs to be fixed by our gov. I hope that they come up with a long term solution soon and not wait till the very last minute to extended the problem out a few more years. More needs to be done but if the leader of our country is aware of the problem that needs to be fixed then I’m sure we are at least pointed in the right direction.

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