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Let DACA Recipients Stay

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Let DACA Recipients Stay

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license.

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When my grandmother was six-years-old, she let a homeless man into her house.

Her mother entered the kitchen to find the man standing in the doorway in his ragged clothes, and my grandmother, barely tall enough to reach the counter, making him a sandwich. My grandmother, her mind not yet muddied by prejudices, saw a man in need walking the streets and let him in.

Today, the people of America and more notably politicians could benefit from possessing some of the childhood innocence and compassion that my grandmother offered.

With the decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration has begun to shut the door on those in need.

The decision marks a deviation from American standards that once fortified a land built on the backs of immigrants with a desire for freedom. Contrary to the slogan the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” American soil is now only home to those who meet the legal definition of what it means to be an American citizen.

If the DACA program is officially ended, America will not only deprive people of the only home they have ever known but also revoke the principles that truly make America great.

As a junior in college, I struggle to imagine the agonizing fear that my peers must be facing. Between managing classes, jobs, and relationships, these individuals are now facing the distress of being deported to a land that some may have never known.

DACA recipients have grown up alongside me. Together, we put on our backpacks to go to Kindergarten, received our diplomas to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and entered the daunting world of college.

Now our narratives have begun to divide.

For many, the one barrier in America that prevents them from access to basic human rights is their dehumanizing categorization as “they.” Their image is often discredited by the common, inaccurate stereotypes that do not fit DACA recipients.

“They take away our jobs and money.”

Although many believe that immigrants take away wealth from American citizens with improved education and taxpaying ability as a result of DACA, they actually contribute $30 billion a year to government finances, according to the Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration Report. By the third generation, they are expected to contribute $223 billion a year.

By removing an estimated 685,000 unauthorized workers, ending DACA could result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national Gross Domestic Product, according to the Center for American Progress.

In  essence, removing DACA will give truth to the stereotype that immigrants take away American’s money. By supporting the elimination of DACA, Americans are supporting a decline in the economy, as these individuals return to being unmonitored citizens, lacking both the fiscal responsibilities and advantages of being a resident.

Forcing people to leave their jobs and upend their lives will disrupt businesses and impact the economy. For all intents and purposes, this program has allowed Americans the ability to no longer live in fear and practice an honest life. Taking it away will only result in more difficulties.

“They are criminals, drug dealers, and rapists.”

Contrary to President Donald Trump’s perception of immigrants, the majority are actually students, sons and daughters. Over half of the 690,000 Dreamers are 25 years or younger, and 45 percent  are currently enrolled in school or college, according to the Pew Research Center.

The undocumented immigrants that are often ostracized on television do not accurately represent the population of DACA recipients. The program only accepts individuals that are enrolled in school and that have not been convicted of a crime.

The program is intended to provide children who entered the United States as minors access to basic human rights and privileges. Many Dreamers were not given the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process that decided their labels as immigrants. Now, by rescinding DACA, these individuals are essentially being punished due to their parent’s decisions to bring them into the country to give them a better life.

These human beings were raised in America and shaped by the same standards and lessons that influenced your growth. We all learned alongside each other in elementary school to treat others as you would want to be treated. By eliminating DACA, political leaders will have abandoned this Golden Rule, failing both immigrants and American citizens.

“They are less hard-working.”

The common stereotype that immigrants are not hard-working could not be more inaccurate. With the concerns of housing, money, and schooling, Dreamers have the same worries as many Americans, but with added pressures.

In addition to day-to-day fears, both undocumented students and DACA recipients are not eligible for federal student aid, according to the Office of the U.S. Department of Education. This means that on top of managing classes, many of these students are also forced to manage full-time jobs to make payments towards their education.

Now my peers are also faced with anxieties regarding their eligibility for health insurance. Even with DACA, recipients were only able to receive Medicaid and did not have access to the benefits of federal health plans, according to NBC News. These individuals are forced to pay out of pocket for health expenses or suffer through their ailments.

Although many Americans’ minds are dogged by everyday doubts, DACA recipients’ lives are in jeopardy. Every day they fear deportation and being rejected by the only home they have ever known and have fought tirelessly to be a part of.

These families escaped the violence of their home countries to be greeted by America, which let them in and gave them hope, but at the same time is threatening to take it away with this recent decision. Most are hard-working human beings, sacrificing their lives every hour for a chance at the privileges that Americans take for granted.

“They should be deported, and we should build a wall.”

To anyone who supports the endeavors to build a wall, my response is that it is time to break it down. The wall was built a long time ago, constructed by the prejudices that cloak the minds of the uninformed.

If you strip away the fact that many of these individuals were not born in the United States, underneath you will find that America is simply denying human beings, like you and me, their pursuit of happiness and right to freedom.

In the words of James Truslow Adams, an American historian and author, “The American dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.”

With the Trump administration jeopardizing DACA, the American dream has been altered and reduced to a game of legality that dehumanizes the people that help bring the dream to fruition. The dream should not be based on birthplace, but on the sole intent of living honestly, freely, and openly.

Although times have changed, I would like to believe that many of us are still dreamers, possessing a glimmer of the same childhood innocence that prompted by grandmother to open the door to a stranger.

Together, we still dream of an America filled with more good and compassionate people than bad. An America that does not define people by stereotypes. An America that if I were walking the streets fearful and in need of a home would let me in — and let me  stay.

Let them stay.

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One Response to “Let DACA Recipients Stay”

  1. Joyce Hinnefeld on February 15th, 2018 9:02 am

    I still get chills when I read this, Kaytlyn! Thank you for this powerful, well-researched, emotionally resonant piece. So proud of you, and so proud of The Comenian, where the work just keeps getting richer and stronger.

    You guys are the best!

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