La Voz Perspective: DACA

A hope for young immigrants

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With President-elect Joe Biden and his new administration transitioning into the White House, new perspectives will be behind policies and legislation. The hot-button issue of immigration has recently come back into the spotlight with a win for young immigrants — and a sigh of relief.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as the DACA program, shields about 700,000 “Dreamers” from deportation and gives them permission to legally work in a renewable two-year time period.

In September 2017, the Trump Administration moved to rescind the program with assertions that the program was unconstitutional.

I’ve seen the impacts, firsthand, from the decision to cut the DACA program. One of my closest friends fell a month short from being eligible to apply for DACA.

Over the years, I’ve watched him struggle from not being able to take part in the normal rites of passage that come with growing up. He dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer, and I’ve seen him adapt and change his path to higher education.

He can’t get a license, he can’t obtain a job and he can’t have the peace of mind that his livelihood is secure.

Back in June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration could not terminate the program as it did not provide “a reasoned explanation” for its termination.

In response, Acting Secretary Chad Wolf wrote a memorandum explaining that, despite the decision, DHS would not accept new applications and that the renewal periods would be permitted for one year instead of two.

“First, while my reconsideration of the DACA policy continues, no new initial requests for DACA should be accepted,” he said. “Second, advance parole should be granted to current DACA beneficiaries only in exceptional circumstances. Third, going forward, renewals of deferred action and the accompanying work authorization should be granted for one-year rather than two-year periods.”

Last Friday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to restore the Obama-era program and start accepting new applicants — undoing the actions outlined in Wolf’s memo.

It’s been completely unfair that these goal-oriented and ambitious young immigrants have had to face extra obstacles to live a normal life that they have always known — an American life.

Friday’s decision provides a glimmer of hope for those who have been left in limbo. With a new administration coming into office, my hope is that these young people are remembered when it comes to new policies and that a feasible path to citizenship is made possible. For a better and equal America, it’s essential.

News + Record intern Olivia Rojas is a part of the newspaper’s La Voz de Chatham reporting team. She’s a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill and lives in Sanford.

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