By Miles Flynn | The Broadside (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This presidential term is one full of changes at a moment’s notice; on September 5, President Donald Trump announced the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era law which gave children who arrived to the country undocumented the option to apply for official status, with a few prerequisites.
Since September, there has been confusion as to what would happen to the “Dreamers,” those who were granted DACA, since no replacement program was initially put forward.
This led to a government shutdown late in January, which started when a short-term spending bill (passed last year by Congress) ran out, and a replacement was held up on the demand that a solution for DACA recipients had to be reached. This demand came from Democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
When the bill made it to the Senate, it contained no mention of the Dreamers, and as such the Democrats of the Senate rejected it, causing the government shut down for two days. This shutdown was ended with the passage of a short-term budget resolution and an agreement to look for long-term solutions for Dreamers.
Early in the morning on Feb. 9, the federal budget ran out, and there was a period where the previous short-term spending bill had run out before another was passed. Many labelled this as a government shutdown, despite the fact that no workers had any time taken off and all federal services remained in effect. Within hours, a spending resolution was passed with promises to look for solutions in the full budget, but again, no mention of DACA in the resolution. This time, Congress had until late March.
When the March deadline rolled around, the House approved a $1.3 billion spending bill for the 2018 fiscal year. There was no mention of a DACA fix, as was promised by top Republicans, but the budget did allocate $1.6 billion to barriers for the border with Mexico.
On April 1, days after making statements that seemed to indicate he wasn’t happy with the budget, President Trump began tweeting about immigration. This started with a tweet which read, in part, “‘Caravans’ coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!” The president continued, saying he would consider ending the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico didn’t begin to stop the “big drug and people flows”.
He ended the series of tweets the following day, expressing similar sentiments to the previous tweets, even repeating that Congress should consider the “Nuclear Option” referring to even more funding for the proposed border wall.
Evelia Sandoval, Program Coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Activities at Central Oregon Community College, says that “Things have gotten more uncertain for DACA students who are attending college. The current administration says they are keeping DACA and then they repeal it.” The fact that United States Customs and Immigration are still accepting renewal applications for a repealed form of protection also sends mixed messages, forcing students protected by DACA to “wonder if they should be putting the money into education or working instead.”
“I try to connect students with educational, community, and legal resources,” Sandoval continued. Anyone who knows individuals affected by the repeal of DACA should contact her office for informational resources, and Sandoval added that it’s important to know “the state of Oregon is committed to helping students through state aid and tuition equity.” For more information, students are invited to the Latino Club hosted Tuesdays at noon in the Coats Campus Center.
Leyvy and Lisbeth Ramos, the Latino Club President and Vice President respectively, expressed concern that the momentum in Congress to pass a DACA replacement has died. “They had the deadline on March and they didn’t do anything.” Regarding the President, they added, “I don’t understand why his mind is stuck on building a wall… it’s completely unnecessary and a waste.” Also expressed were concerns about mistreatment of those held in immigrant detention facilities, like the one in The Dalles.
Leyvy and Lisbeth Ramos urged individuals take action and had a message “for a Dreamer attending COCC: [We] believe that they should continue their education and not let anyone stop them from getting an education, because education is empowerment.” In addition, they believe institutions like COCC should provide more financial and psychological help to students whose immigration status could be in jeopardy. ■