DACA: What we have to lose and how San Francisco is responding

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President Donald Trump has recently decided to rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a policy established by Barack Obama to defer the deportation of persons who entered the country as children. As of Sept. 12, the Trump administration’s statement is that anyone who is not a citizen should be prepared to leave. This leaves the future of over 800,000 immigrants remains unclear.

 

DACA recipients have built almost all their lives working in the United States. All recipients were brought to the United States when they were younger than 16 years old, yet they now face the possibility of being deported from the country that they call home.

What does is say about America’s values, to deport immigrants who only want to further their education and make a future for themselves? DACA recipients are called DREAMers — coined from the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would have provided eligible undocumented youth a pathway to permanent residency and citizenship — for a reason. They dream of an meritorious opportunity, something that is supposedly uniquely American. If DREAMers were to be deported, we would have to seriously reckon what American ideals truly are. Are they ideals of acceptance and opportunity, or of exclusion and “America-first?”

 

Besides the personal impact on a variety of communities, the United States wouldn’t be the same without DACA recipients, both financially and ideologically. As the libertarian Cato Institute predicts, the termination of DACA would lead to $60 billion in lost revenue to the federal government over the span of only one decade. The same study revealed that the federal government would also lose $280 billion in economic growth during that same one decade.

 

When the government decides to take unjust action against the people of this country, we have the responsibility to speak up. Civil disobedience doesn’t always mean exerting violence. To use history as an example of peaceful demonstrations impacting political policy, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were strongly influenced by The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in which 200,000 citizens rallied in Washington, D.C.

 

The Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA has an impact in the Bay Area. On the legislative side of advocating for DACA, our local Sen. Kamala Harris has pledged to do everything in her power to fight for DACA. Yet San Francisco still frets. “I’ve always lived with uncertainty and been in a perpetual state of anxiety,” law student Denia Perez said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “Some days are better than others. I’ve learned to try to channel my energy to work for comprehensive, long-term solutions.”

 

Since Trump rescinded DACA, a long-term solution can only be created by Congress. They have six months to decide the fate of 800,000 DACA recipients. Vanessa Pumar, an immigration attorney and DACA recipient, gave insight to the public and advice to other recipients. “Our community was already fearful. It has been in the shadows for so long until the DACA movement,” she said in a San Francisco Chronicle interview. “I don’t want this fear to drive people to go back into the shadows.”

 

Not only are local Hispanic communities target of this decision, but also the Filipino community. “As part of the continuing attacks of President Trump including his anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric, this move is to be expected,” said Aurora Victoria Herrera David, the secretary general of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), in an interview with the Philippine news website Inquirer. “[It] is not a surprise but still is disappointing, very outrageous that his administration is doing this to immigrants.” It shows the massive impact this decision has on the Bay Area that covers a wide range of communities.

 

This decision is not only inclusive of one designated immigration location. Because people have used DACA to come to America from different parts of the world, the United States is a central home for everyone. Losing our immigrants would be detrimental consequence of faulty decision-making. It is clear that our immigrant communities are necessary and would only further benefit our nation.

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