DACA Students are living in fear with Trump as President
Silvia Sanchez, a DACA student, had just swiped her metro card at the Rockefeller Center train station, and while she rushed down the stairs to see if there was a train coming she noticed them. On her regular Monday morning commute about a month ago, she saw men in black vests with ICE written on the back in bright green letters. One of the scariest things that could happen to an immigrant is seeing ICE and it had just happened to her. She wondered what she should do next. She told herself, “I look just like every other person at the train station, and in some way I am legal here. She watched their every move from the corner of her eye as she moved through the station. She wondered, “Are they going to ask me questions about my status in the United States, will they know just by looking at me that I’m an immigrant?” She knew that as a DACA student, she was never really safe. Even if it made her feel legal, she was not.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a federal program allowing certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. President Barak Obama gave many children that are living in the United States without any legal paperwork the opportunity to obtain a social security number. The social security number brought many opportunities for them but the main opportunity was the chance to feel like they finally belonged in this country. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, on the first year DACA came to life almost a 153,000 people applied . Now, with the new President, Donald Trump, there has been fear brought upon many individuals that are under the DACA act. Even though President Trump vowed that DACA recipients would be safe, he has already deported one Dreamer. Juan Manuel Montes was waiting for a ride home when U.S Customs and border Protection officers approached him in Calexico, California. Since he forgot his wallet in a friend’s car he wasn’t able to produce his ID or proof of DACA status. Even though he was the only one deported, there are still about 10 DACA holders in federal custody according to United We Dream, an advocacy program made up of DACA enrollees. These are the types of situations that brought a new sense of fear to many students that are able to attend college and universities through this act. They are scared that it will take them away from all their passions and hobbies and will not be able to continue down the same career path.
“DACA gave many children in the United States the opportunity to have the American dream but with President Trump, they won’t be able to live out their dream,” said Lawyer Sam Udani. He has been an immigration lawyer for over 15 years and feels like there is finally a program that gives people that are not legal the opportunity to go to school, which is what many people have been waiting for. He also believes that, “Immigrants are what make up the United States and without them we might lose valuable resources.”
“It was an empowering moment for me to finally have all the things that my other friends had,” Phillip said. A DACA student, Shaun Phillip, is afraid that he won’t be able to go to a local library anymore or Dunkin’ Donuts without someone asking him a lot of questions. It just wouldn’t be the same for him anymore. He felt like since he came to the United States when he was five, he didn’t even remember anything from his native country, India. So when he found out that there was finally an act, DACA, that would give him the opportunity for all of the things in America he never imagined doing — driving a car, getting a credit card, and having a job — he thought he could finally feel legal. It wasn’t only those things for Shaun but it was also the opportunity to go to school. “I finally felt like I was able to make my imprint in the United States without having to worry about being deported”, Phillip said.
If Trump opts to undo the executive action that created DACA, the program could be immediately canceled — as he promised during the campaign — or it may be phased out by not allowing immigrants to renew their benefits when they expire after two years. Congress may also act to give “Dreamers” a chance to legally stay in the U.S. A bill backed by a group of Democratic and Republican senators would offer protection from deportation and a work permit for three years to those eligible for DACA benefits. As Dreamer Silvia Sanchez said, “All I can do for now is carry around my DACA I.D in the hopes that it will keep me from being deported but it’s hard to say what Trump is actually going to do.”