President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order from the Obama administration, or better known as DACA , has left almost no one without an opinion.
“They’ve been here most of their lives and it’s not really their fault they’ve been here since elementary school, it’s not like you know what’s happening when you’re that young,” senior Suelayne Gonzalez said. “Now that they’ve grown up I don’t understand why you would want them to leave since they have pretty much made English their first language, speak it every day, they’re one of us they’re Americans and it’s just not right to send them somewhere they’ve never even been.”
The current DACA policy allows for a renewable two year period of deferred action which indefinitely delays deportation, as well as granting eligible recipients work permits. Possible termination is looming just in six months, depending on whether Congress can reach a decision. That uncertainty has been one factor that led senior Elise Gaitan to buckle down on her opinions.
“The kids that are already here should be able to stay for an extended time because even though I understand what Trump is trying to do, I’m not for it. If they’re putting in the effort to be here and be productive they should be given the opportunity to become citizens,” Gaitan said.
Another question raised by this debate is how much of a role the federal government should be having in deportation. Gonzalez makes the argument that when issues of this scale are delegated to Washington, it’s easy to overlook some things.
“It shouldn’t be the government’s decision,” Gonzalez said. “As citizens, we should have more of a say because if it’s just the government, that doesn’t take everything into account and we are the ones that live with these people, we’re around them, they go to school with us, it should be our choice whether to keep them here.”
The Obama era executive order initially received criticism in 2012 for being too far reaching for executive legislation. Now, that same reason is part of the thinking behind bouncing the program through the many hoops of the legislative branch. But each process has its drawbacks.
“A new executive order should be created to fill the hole that DACA is going to leave in the immigration system,” senior David Jensen said. “That way we can help them on the path to citizenship regardless of the circumstances that got them here, so that they can make it through the system and become fully integrated into American society.”
Due to the additional security as well as the flexibility of a law, Gonzalez would rather see a bipartisan congressional effort to fulfill the gap in immigration policy.
“If we are able to develop an actual law, that would have more staying power rather than just an executive order, which can be taken away. I think we should try to make it to a point where they’re able to stay here and once they reach a certain point, it’s up to the individual to make the decision about whether they want to pursue citizenship or return elsewhere,” Gonzalez said.
DACA recipients are often called “dreamers” a term originating from the proposed DREAM Act, which offered legal status in return for attending college or joining the military, introduced in 2001. Still, the name has stuck, and the hope that it implies has resonated with many.
“It could be a DACA recipient that eventually finds a cure for cancer, or comes up with some other huge discovery and it would be a waste to get rid of that opportunity,” senior Tito Lara said.