Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

The divided opinions on the DREAM Act: Dreamers are Americans

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be rescinded.
DACA was Barack Obama’s 2012 landmark immigration policy allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to work or attend school legally without constantly having to worry about deportation.
These children had to have arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 years old and lived here since June 15, 2007. While DACA does not offer them any paths to get an American citizenship, recipients apply for renewal every two years in order to defer deportation.
Nearly 800,000 young people, also called Dreamers, have been accepted by the program and are currently going to school or working in the U.S. According to the CATO Institute, as of a 2015 survey, “the average DACA recipient is 22 years old, employed, and earns about $17 an hour. The majority [of recipients] are still students and 17% are pursuing advanced degrees.” DACA recipients pay income tax and are also able to open bank accounts and credit cards.
Now that the Trump administration plans to “phase out” DACA, new applications are not being considered, and any recipient whose deferral ends by March 5, 2018 has a month to apply for renewal in order to get their renewal applications processed. The president has given Congress sixth months to either legalize DACA or pass a different piece of legislation protecting Dreamers.
If Congress is unable to come up with a solution, nearly 300,000 people would lose their legal status in 2018. After that, more and more recipients will be deported.
One of the mains reasons the Trump administration chose to rescind DACA was concerns about the economic effect of allowing DACA recipients to stay in the U.S. In his statement about DACA, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained, “[DACA] denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go illegal aliens.”
President Trump reminded the audience, during his statement, that, “we must remember that young Americans have dreams too.”
However, there is a difference between acknowledging that young Americans have dreams and assuming that all the available jobs in the country are only for American citizens. It is important to note, however, that the Trump administration’s reasoning assumes that there is only so much work available in the U.S.
Giovanni Peri, professor of economics at the University of California, Davis disagrees. He explained to NPR, “population creates its own jobs in some sense.” Peri also states that by rescinding DACA, “the American economy would be 800 [thousand] you people smaller, and the skills and productivity [they brought] wouldn’t be there.”
DACA gives undocumented immigrants opportunities to live and work in the U.S. without the constant fear of deportation, and with that peace of mind they work diligently for honest educations and honest livelihoods of their own.
The idea that DACA recipients are taking jobs away from Americans is completely ludicrous and incredibly unjust.
If an American citizen does not qualify for a job, and an undocumented immigrant does, that does not mean that the American citizen got his or her job taken away. That means an undocumented immigrant worked hard towards getting a job he or she really wanted.
After all, isn’t that the American dream?
So why is it then that if an American citizen gets a job, it’s the American dream, but if an undocumented immigrant does that it is “stealing jobs?”
The underlying issue is how the Trump administration defines “American.” Is an American only an American if he or she was born in the U.S.? For most DACA recipients, the U.S. is the only place they call home, and they consider themselves to be just as much of an American as someone born in this country.
By describing undocumented immigrants as “illegal aliens,” President Trump and his administration are isolating an honest group of people came to the U.S. through no choice of their own. People—especially those who consider themselves to be loyal Americans—do not deserve to be called “aliens.” It is unfair to label someone as being “illegal” when they are working so hard to help a country they see as their own.
The fate of Dreamers is in Congress’s hands now, but the Augustana community can help. President Bahls sent out an email following the announcement, assuring the campus that all students are welcome. Moreover, Pastor Kristen Glass-Perez reminds us, “When one of us in our community is troubled, we are all troubled.”
Though the news of the decision has left many shocked and feeling hopeless, Samuel Payan, Director of Multicultural Student Life, urges students to stay positive, be supportive, and ask themselves, “what do we need to do to change this reality for us?”
There is a lot the Augustana community can do right now.
You can call your representative or your senator and tell them how you feel about this decision and what you want them to do to protect Dreamers. Calling takes less than five minutes, and your voice and your opinion can carry a lot of weight.
If you are unable to call, there are other things you can do to be supportive. Both Payan and Pastor Perez believe that just by printing out the “Dreamer’s Welcome” flyer and putting it on your door, you can show solidarity.
DACA has given Dreamers a chance to chase the American dream, and clearly they are not taking the opportunity for granted. If DACA recipients can put so much effort into making the most of what they have been offered, then surely we as a community can put in just as much effort to defend DACA and protect Dreamers.

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The divided opinions on the DREAM Act: Dreamers are Americans