BY JEREMY HALLOWANGER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
America is home to thousands of immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But the place so many of these so-called DREAMers call home is being threatened. As of Sept. 5, the Trump Administration moved to end DACA as we know it. The program has six months before it becomes official.
DACA was created in 2012 by the Obama Administration. It granted young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents a temporary reprieve from deportation. Under DACA, these children were given the opportunity to study, work and obtain a driver’s license. According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 800,000 people from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have been accepted through the DACA Program with the large part of people taking residence in California.
There are several requirements to be accepted into DACA. Applicants must have been continuous residents of the U.S. since 2007 and under the age of 31 as of 2012. They had to currently be in school, graduate from high school or obtain a GED equivalent. Other options included being an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces or U.S. Coast Guard. Individuals would not be admitted if they had been convicted of a felony, had three or more misdemeanors or had posed a threat to public safety/national security.
It has been left up to Congress to find a permanent solution — if they choose to find one. In the meantime, the Immigration Law Center of Minnesota (ILCOM) has been fighting on behalf of DACA members. There is an Oct. 5 deadline for current DACA members to renew, and John Keller, Executive Director of ILCOM, is fighting hard to make sure people renew on time. “Services of the ILCOM include helping people renew ASAP, creating a plan B upon expiration and developing a deportation defense plan,” Keller said. If their renewal is accepted, recipients will gain two more years to hope more permanent legislation is put into place.
DACA recipients are running short on time as the clock ticks. DREAMers are urged to share their personal stories with Congress members and elected officials. Nearly 300,000 people could be at risk for deportation in 2018 if Congress does not pass any measures to protect DACA recipients. That number would grow by 20,000 in 2019, and it could continue to rise, leaving many living a nightmare rather than a dream.
This article first appeared in the Friday, October 6, 2017, Edition of The Echo.