An Open Letter to the United States of America
As many of you know, the September 5th deadline established by several states’ Attorneys General to end DACA or face legal action is looming.
Meanwhile, as news runs rampant that a decision on DACA is imminent, nearly 800,000 Americans are terrified that their ability to live in their communities, pursue their professional aspirations, and generally contribute to society will be ripped away.
And yes, I did say Americans.
You see, the fate of those young people protected from deportation and provided work authorization through DACA is, while not entirely exclusive among immigrants in general, certainly unique. DACA recipients have only ever really known life in the United States: they’ve attended our schools; they’ve befriended our children; and they’ve grown up to become indispensable colleagues in our workplaces.
Contrary to what seems to be a prevalent belief, DACA recipients pay taxes on their income. They buy houses and cars. They often self-finance their educations. And they prosper as business people, as educators, as lawyers, and as leaders in their communities.
DACA recipients have families whom they support with the permission to work DACA provides.
They are indistinguishable from United States citizens in every way except for a few key pieces of documentation. Do you define your American-ness by pointing to your birth certificate or your passport? I don’t. I don’t know anyone who does.
Imagine learning during your first formative years in high school that, despite having grown up as an American, you have no legal status to live and work in the United States. It happens.
Now imagine finding out some folks want to force you back to a country that is for you completely foreign, whose language you may speak but whose culture (and in some cases whose dangers) were complete unknowns. For DACA recipients, those people are very real.
Much has been published in recent months on the socioeconomic benefits of DACA in the form of contributions to state and local taxes and our GDP, and those proximate benefits are very real. Those benefits are worth celebrating, because they speak to the success of DACA recipients within the framework of our society. They certainly represent sound arguments for protecting the program.
But forget about all of that, if only for a second, and — please — try to recognize something if you don’t already: DACA should be preserved because, in the absence of a legislated method for DACA recipients to prosper in this place they call home, revoking it would simply be cruel.
Forcing the termination of employment of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who can work because of DACA would be cruel.
Taking away driving privileges from Americans whose states provide licenses under DACA would be cruel.
Deporting Americans to unknown at best and unsafe at worst countries would be beyond cruel.
I intend to appeal here not to your emotions but to your basic sense of decency: please, defend DACA. As you would defend the right of any other American, perhaps a friend, neighbor, or coworker (because they very well may be), please — defend DACA.
Co-Founder, DACA Time