By: Michael B. Berger, Esq. & Adela Smehlik
Berger & Berger Law Office
Imagine. Imagine being taken by your parents from the only country you’ve ever known. Imagine being brought to a strange place where you’re unfamiliar with the language. Imagine not having a choice.
You enter the U.S. with your family. They tell you they brought you here for a better life, to give you opportunities, and to make sure you thrive. They don’t tell you they don’t have documentation and neither do you, they don’t tell you the government could send you back to a place you can’t remember. Then, it happens, windbreakers with the letters ICE flap in the wind as they walk up the steps to your house and they put you into removal proceedings.
These are the people of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, protected. DACA was introduced on June 15, 2012 as an Executive Order memorandum granting temporary protection to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before they were 16. This order, acknowledging individuals entered without choice, has protected over 728,000 people from deportation and gave them the right to work in the U.S.
On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced a plan to gradually rescind DACA status and protections. This means that U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services no longer accepts DACA applications, new or renewal, and DACA protections will be phased out over a short period.
Following this announcement, former President Barack Obama eloquently stated, “. . . we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.” And this is true. DACA recipients are individuals who have never been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors, and are not a threat to national or public safety. They have, or will receive, GEDs or high school diplomas. As of this year, it is reported that DACA recipients have paid over two billion dollars in taxes. They have worked to succeed under the circumstances and have attempted to contribute to the place they call home.
Humanitarianism is the idea that it is people’s duty to promote human and social welfare. DACA was a measure to allow undocumented young people to continue their lives in the only place most of them have ever known, to ensure they could work, and to allow them to remain with friends and family.
Congress has until early 2018 to enact a legislative remedy for DACA and reform U.S. immigration laws and policies. Until then, voice your opinion and push your local Congressman to take action. Without your help, these young people may lose everything.