Take concrete steps for change

By: Sarah Rowan, Editor-in-Chief 

This week’s cover story is a compilation of campus reactions to last week’s news that President Donald Trump has moved to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, giving Congress a six month window to replace it. 

While the story goes in-depth into campus reactions, I want to take a moment to provide some more information about the program in order to dispel misleading myths and untruths about the program’s purpose.

The DACA program provides administrative relief from deportation, protecting eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday from being deported. The program allows those eligible to obtain work permits and to attend school.

Define American, a nonprofit organization whose aim is to shift the conversation about immigrants, identity and citizenship in America, provides an extremely useful factsheet for people who want to know more about the DACA program, how it works and how it serves to help those who receive it. The following information comes from their fact sheet.

DACA recipients cannot receive amnesty or a path to citizenship. The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act was introduced on several occasions, but was never passed — it would have provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant minors.

DACA recipients cannot vote. They are also not eligible for federal benefits, such as Social Security, financial aid or food stamps.

In order to be eligible for DACA, recipients must be enrolled in school or graduated from school, and may not have a felony conviction.

Ninety-five percent of DACA recipients are working or in school, 63 percent got a better paying job, 54 percent bought their first car, 48 percent got a job with better working conditions and 12 percent bought their first home, according to Define American.

And, tax revenue — about $1.2 billion — from DACA recipients would vanish with the program’s rescission. The Cato Institute reports that the rescission will cost employers $6.3 billion in employee turnover costs.

But here’s the thing. All the talk of damage to the economy, etc. that the DACA rescission would inevitably bring leaves out an extremely important part of the narrative.

DACA recipients, and all undocumented immigrants, are human beings, and it’s vital that we do not reduce this to just a political and economic problem. We’re talking about people who have spent their lives here, who grew up alongside American citizens and who deserve to be here for more than just the fact that they’re in school or that they’re working.

Educate yourself. Find a local protest or gathering. Start one if you can’t find one. Call and write to your senators — you can even text “RESIST” to 504-09 to send a message directly to your state senators. Here, they are senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin.

And, understand that through all of this, you cannot take the microphone away from those who are actually affected by this rescission by trying to speak for, and over, them.

I think Towson LASO said it best — that the news can’t become “another pin to wear or another hashtag to support with nothing more done to show alliance.” Be an ally, but in the right way.

It is vital that this conversation continues, and that concrete steps are taken to protect DACA recipients, and all undocumented immigrants.

It’s time to stand up and act.

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