It’s been more than two months since the Trump administration announced their decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for immigrant youth, an announcement that has devastated the nearly 28,000 Arizonans who benefit from DACA.
Since President Barack Obama created DACA in 2012, these youth have been allowed to work, study and live in the U.S. for a period of two years, with the promise that the information they provided would not be used against them.
With DACA, these young people can legally work and pay taxes, secure a driver’s license and purchase a vehicle or a home – things that Americans aspire to do. They came to our country from Israel, Russia, Samoa, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. They are university students, business owners, hard workers. All of them want the same thing we do – an opportunity to pursue their dreams – the “American” dream.
President Trump’s decision to rescind DACA affects all of us, no matter if you were born in the U.S., or just arrived. You may not know that the young person who is your neighbor, your coworker, or your child’s classmate has received DACA status.
Immigration status is an invisible marker. In Arizona, immigrants come from all over the world. Some are naturalized citizens, some have green cards that allow them to work and live in the U.S. indefinitely, and some have no immigration documents and can be deported at any time.
For undocumented immigrants, the ability to get immigration documents to live and work in the U.S. is extremely limited, even for those married to U.S. citizens. DACA was an attempt by the Obama administration to provide a future for these young people whose parents came to the U.S. when they were very young.
With Trump’s decision, these young people have once again been pushed into the shadows of our community, fearful of an uncertain future where the next knock on the door at homes or places of employment will be an immigration officer seeking to arrest and deport them. This decision creates a hostile environment for our immigrant communities.
The termination of DACA is shameful. We should do everything possible to make sure these young people can continue to pursue their future dreams in America and to protect the human rights of all Arizonans.
This decision is an attack not only on some of the best young people I know, it is an attack on their friends, their families, and the innumerable number of individuals whose lives are impacted by DACA recipients every day. Getting rid of DACA and revoking 28,000 legal work permits will hurt Phoenix and our state economy.
There is one group of people who can do more to reverse this shameful decision, and that is the U.S. Congress. It is incumbent upon Arizona’s two U.S. Senators and nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives to take action to protect Dreamers.
It’s been more than two months. We need action. We cannot let President Trump’s DACA decision become yesterday’s news.