OPINION: Keep DACA in place

DACA recipients deserve to be here



DACA recipients are the backbone of this country and the survival of the bill ensures their continued residency.

CLAIRE PADILLA, Evergreen columnist

In mid-June 2020, President Donald Trump moved to end the DACA program and its protection over undocumented immigrants. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Trump is unable to end the program because he did not go about the correct way of revoking it.

Diana Rivera, DACA recipient and sophomore digital technology and culture major, said though the news was welcome, there is more that has to be done.

“I was able to see the light at the end of that tunnel,” Rivera said, “but I know that there is still a long way to go, and a lot of work to do. I acknowledge the privilege I have because I will be able to renew, work and keep going to school, but while the Supreme Court was debating whether DACA should continue or not, I was taken away the opportunity to go see my family in Mexico and to be able to go study abroad.”

Rivera said this Supreme Court ruling is not the end of the fight.

“This will only be enough when we are all granted with these opportunities and with a program that does not include an expiration date,” she said. “We cannot forget about those who do not qualify or have access to it. We must fight for them as well.”

DACA, also known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that allows individuals with undocumented status to have a two-year period of “deferred action.” This delays deportation and allows individuals to apply for a U.S. work permit. The program does not include a path to citizenship and is only allowed for those who entered the U.S. illegally as a child.

John Hedrick, WSU alumnus and Pullman resident, wrote in a Facebook post, “If you knock on my door, I welcome you in. If you sneak through my window, I give you both barrels.”

Hedrick wrote in an email that DACA is the government’s job to “provide for the common defense.”

While he is only partially right (the federal government does more than protect), there is something to be explored there. Many people tend to believe that undocumented individuals are detrimental to the U.S., specifically in terms of them “stealing” jobs, though there is ample evidence to suggest the contrary.

There are about 10-12 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., according to the Brookings Institute.Around 1.3 million undocumented immigrants qualify for DACA, and about 800,000 of those received DACA protections since the beginning of the program.

In Texas alone, there were 56 percent fewer criminal convictions of undocumented immigrants than of native-born Americans, according to the Washington Post. While some pundits would argue that undocumented immigrants were the problem, it’s clear there are more problems from citizens than immigrants.

There is concern that undocumented immigrants are entering the U.S. illegally and that they should come in through better routes. DACA covers those who were forced to immigrate, generally as children, with their families. Those who were under the age of 16 when they entered the U.S. are deemed not responsible for their immigration and are given a chance to apply to legally work in the U.S.

James Johnson-Brown, senior at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, said DACA has reasons to be liked by both parties.

“[DACA] is a bipartisan dream scenario: immigrants get to cross the border, providing for economic brother and cheap labor, but are also forced to assimilate,” Johnson-Brown said. “DACA recipients are subject to strict rules like … no previous criminal history either in the U.S. or their home country and compulsory high school education.”

So, why is it a good thing that DACA is still standing?

Shutting down DACA means that thousands of people who had immigrated would be pushed out of a country they grew up in, to a foreign land where they don’t have connections. Many would be deported without their family members, so they’d be facing the challenges of living in a foreign country with no support.

Not to mention that about 25 percent of DACA recipients have U.S.-born children, so their deportation would send their kids into unknown families or the foster system. This is a problem because it overloads the foster care and adoption systems, and it also causes extreme distress for both the parents and kids.

DACA recipients also benefit from the U.S. economy intensely because of the cheap labor systems. While it’s not morally correct to pay undocumented immigrants the amount they’re getting, those who are against DACA should think twice before saying something bad about it. DACA recipients often work in farm fields or in jobs that American citizens wouldn’t think of applying for. Because of the lack of applicants to those jobs, some DACA members are able to fill in the gaps while helping the economy.

“White America shouldn’t be afraid of economic success just because it’s not coming from them,” Johnson-Brown said.

Much of our economic success comes from undocumented immigrants. They add to the economy, not take away from it, and they work just like other people trying to make a living. Disbanding the program would affect our lives in ways we don’t even realize. Seeing as many Americans are concerned about the economic success of the country, it’s interesting to see how many are against DACA.

Throughout the pandemic, many undocumented immigrants have continued to work in unhealthy and unsafe conditions while other people continued with their lives almost as normal. If many of these workers stopped, our food supply would diminish and our healthcare workers would be even less supported because more than 200,000 DACA recipients have been working during the coronavirus epidemic, whether it’d be in medicine, food service and other support roles.

While Trump works to find another way to end DACA, many undocumented immigrants can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they’ll be safe and be able to pursue a better life for a little bit longer. Native-born Americans should also be supporting DACA recipients, alongside other undocumented immigrants, because without them our lives would be incredibly different.