By: Katya Agatucci | The Broadside (Contact: email@example.com)
An immediate impact on over 800,000 people known as “dreamers” rippled through the nation as soon as the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] was announced at the beginning of September.
What is the DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started by President Obama, was rescinded by the Trump administration on September 5, 2017. This program helps many young adults who were illegally brought to the United States as children have the chance to legally work, study at universities, and have a driver’s license.
“He [Barack Obama] brought it about to help these students that were left in limbo,” Christie Walker, Latino College Preparation Coordinator, explained. “These kids weren’t here from their own choices. They were here from a matter of circumstances, and then all of a sudden they were left with nothing.”
Co-president of the Latino Club at Central Oregon Community College, Lisbeth Ramos, was not entirely surprised when she heard about DACA being repealed: “When Trump won the  election, it was kind of obvious that he was going to take [DACA] away because of the pressure between Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump. It was like a waiting game after he won.”
Many people who qualified for protection under DACA didn’t even know their status in America was illegal. In fact, many people in such circumstances will come to find out that they are undocumented when trying to apply for a job, going to the DMV to renew their driver’s license, or enrolling in school.
Former President Obama enacted DACA as a reaction to Congress’ inability to take action to fairly deal with such circumstances.
Walker mentioned that the largest concern looming over all DACA recipients is the unknown of what will happen and how this issue will be resolved.
Congress has until March of 2018 to provide a solution for the people affected by the program ending.
Lisbeth Ramos and Leyvy Ramos, co-presidents of COCC’s Latino Club, both mentioned options Congress could take on DACA, including the Dream Act [see table for more information].
The act requires at least eight years of having CPR [conditional permanent residence] status and then qualified recipients would be able to apply for a green card or LPR status. To then apply to be a U.S. citizen, recipients have to have had the LPR status for at least five years before applying.
“You have to start all over,” Liseth Ramos mentioned about the Dream Act. The process of becoming a U.S citizen through the Dream Act proposal will take at least 13 years.
“The fact that this is being taken away just really harms the most productive, hardworking people in our society because they have to prove that they are going to school and haven’t committed crimes just to have DACA. To go after those individuals seems tragic to me,” Evelia Sandoval, Latino Student Program Coordinator, said.
Not only are these opportunities snatched from underneath their feet, but the hundreds of thousands of people under this program could risk mass deportations to a country into which they might not have ever set foot.
Sandoval shed some light on the fact that some of these DACA recipients might not even be aware of the situation they are facing: “These people, through no fault of their own, are brought into this country. They were raised in the US, some of these individuals might not even know that they aren’t US citizens. It can be very traumatic. Some might not even speak their native languages.”
Walker and Sandoval encouraged students to seek resources and continue in their education.
“Stay vigilant; know what’s going on. Seek out the truth. Call your legislators. Immigration is a polarizing issue but [someone] trying to get an education is just someone trying to better themselves,” Sandoval said about what students can do to move on and stay positive.
“It’s about being informed, we won’t give up. It’s a fight we will continue to have and this is not the end. This is only the beginning,” said Leyvy Ramos.
The co-presidents both mentioned that concerned citizens should take action to be involved with the community, call senators, and know the truth about what DACA really is.
Walker stated that there is a bounty of support within the Bend community and COCC: “I think it’s important for people to remember that regardless of your political affiliation, these are people, they’re human beings. They’re not just a number or a statistic, they are people in our community. Whether or not you believe that this (DACA) affects you, it does. These people need our help, and if we keep silent then we are encouraging this kind of hate and disregard that has been happening.”
COCC does not require DACA to be enrolled as a student. “They acknowledge that people come from different walks of life, and in the true tradition of community college, you usually get non-traditional students there. I think that those students would fall into that category,” Walker added.
There are many more resources on campus to help students in need or wanting to educate themselves about multicultural issues.
Throughout the school year, there are Latino Community Association workshops, immigrant rights groups, Latino Club meetings, and the 2017-18 COCC Latino Program Scholarships. The scholarships are due by Oct. 13, 2017.
There is also Latino Club Open house and DACA conversation with local immigration attorneys on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 12 pm in the Multicultural Center.
For more information on multicultural events at COCC, visit www.cocc.edu/mcc-events/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Latino community events. ■
The Dream Act would make the following changes to current law:
- It would grant current DACA beneficiaries permanent resident status on a conditional basis, and allow TPS beneficiaries, people without lawful immigration status, and people with final orders of removal the opportunity to apply for this same immigration status.
- It would allow conditional permanent residents to gain LPR status (lawful permanent resident), also known as getting a green card if they go to college, have worked for a certain amount of time, or served in the U.S. military.
- It would halt the removal proceedings of anyone who meets the Dream Act requirements and young people over 5 years of age who are enrolled in school.
- It would help people afford college for undocumented youth and other immigrants by changing rules that limit their access to in-state tuition and college loans.
Courtesy of the National Immigration Law Center https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-reform-and-executive-actions/dreamact/dream-act-2017-summary-and-faq/