Opinions

DACA’s Impact On The Immigrant Community

Yamileth Carachure Flores, contributor

On Nov. 12, the Supreme Court had its first oral hearings on the DACA issue. What is being decided is whether it was constitutional for the Trump administration to end the DACA program. A final decision on DACA will not be made until spring 2020. This is a date that has been heavy for DACA recipients and their families, including myself. For those who do not know what DACA is, it stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is an immigration program passed during the Obama administration in 2012. It granted undocumented youth a temporary work permit of two years and protection from deportation. But this program is limited, has rigid requirements and includes no pathway to citizenship. Along with reapplying to this program every two years, there is always a background check and the application fee not including immigration attorney fees. DACA feeds into the narrative of the “good immigrant.”

 

The “good immigrant” narrative is the concept that all immigrants are bad people until they earn their right to be treated as humans. It ties into the hierarchy of race in immigration, where xenophic sentiments lie. Just as the traditional narrative paints a picture of immigrants taking advantage of the system, stealing jobs and being criminals, the “good immigrant” narrative is tied to being a college student, learning English as a priority, assimilating to U.S. culture and being a contributing member of society. Basically, always proving that you are not your stereotype and that you are worthy of human dignity. This narrative is usually exclusive to children of immigrant parents–the parents are left out of the picture. 

 

DACA was exclusively available to young people. It was based on the same “good immigrant” narrative that helped push through this program, where the focus was on a certain group who was considered worthy of getting an opportunity like this. As much as DACA has helped out people with legal work permits, furthering education, and other opportunities, DACA leaves behind a large group of undoucmented people that are often our parents, family, and community. It feeds into the story that our parents and loved ones forced us against our will to migrate to this country. Although it is true that we did not have a choice for this, they should also not be labeled as the harmful term “illegal”.

 

When I first came to this country, I was undocumented until I was able to apply for DACA when I was 17. I felt like I had to prove to this country that people like me are assets and are hard working, that we are not hardened criminals. As I grew older I started to understand the harmful narratives that divide the immigrant community. We shouldn’t have to spill out our trauma, prove our humanity, and exclude others to benefit one group.

 

On the first day of the DACA oral hearings, a number of DACA recipients walked towards the Supreme Court. They delivered their testimonies, their own stories to defend DACA in front of a white supremasist system. As much as DACA has been helpful and opened up opportunities, it is breadcrumbs in the big picture. We deserve more than that. I am not your perfect immigrant. I want more than DACA because we deserve an immigration reform that includes all of us.

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