Opinion: Removing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has consequences

Andrea Hefferan | Staff Writer

When I was six, I moved.

Not to a new state. Not to a new city. Not to a new school. No, I simply moved houses. Although I knew I was supposed to feel lucky to be staying in the same community, the move was still terrifying.

Our new house was much bigger than our old one. Because of this, I got my own room, as opposed to sharing one with my sister. I loved it. But sometimes, at night, lying there alone in the darkness, I would be scared. Scared that someone would enter my bedroom door and take me away. I spun wild tales of who–or what–could be lurking in the dark, just waiting for a moment of weakness. I felt so far from my parents and thought the worst during those nights. And I admit it, sometimes those irrational fears creep back despite having lived in my new house for almost ten years.

Moving away from a place you have always called home is tough. Even a move as small as mine. But imagine if it was not small. Imagine if you were forced to move away from your own country, away from everything you have known. Those fears would expand into an all-consuming state of mind.

And this is what will happen to many if Trump continues with his plans to terminate the immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This policy allows undocumented immigrants who came into the United States as minors to be eligible to stay for a two year period and receive a work permit. According to Pew Research Center, this policy has benefited nearly 790,000 young unauthorized immigrants. Each of these 790,000 people (often called ‘dreamers’) was sixteen or younger when they came to the US, simply children.

So if Trump is going to get rid of DACA, what will happen to them? Congress is being given six months to find a solution to replace DACA. Six months, in the grand scheme of things, is not very long. And the dreamers who are unlucky enough to be discovered or have their plan expire during these six months are not able to apply for the two year window of deferred action. After all this time they have been living in our country, they will have to leave because there is no better plan in place.

Yes, they are here illegally, but see past that label and you find they are so much more than that. They are just as much a part of the community as any citizen is. They go to the same schools, live in the same neighborhoods, speak the same language as we do. We cannot separate ourselves from them; we coexist with them already.

Illegal immigration is an enormous issue. But we will not solve it by kicking out all of the children. Removing DACA will not magically make all the illegal immigrants disappear. The kids who need help and just want to be in a place where they feel safe; they are still here, and “winging it” in this situation isn’t going to cut it.

It’s up to us to help the children who are helpless, watching their whole lives crumble in front of them. And it doesn’t have to be anything monumental at first. Posting on social media, signing petitions, these are small things that can be done to protest the removal of DACA.

Moving by choice is difficult. But no one should have to leave their lifelong home for a dangerous foreign country. Donald Trump, by getting rid of DACA, is making sure that the dreamers’ dreams never come true.