Hodge: Dismantling DACA is killing the American Dream

Jayla Hodge

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.  
 
Earlier this week, President Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and gave Congress 6 months to pass a replacement before he starts phasing out its protections. This announcement has the potential to negatively affect many in this country who play a positive role in our society. More importantly, the Dreamers represent the American Dream, our principle belief that anyone should have the opportunity to work hard and achieve success.  
 
DACA is an Obama Era program that has protected almost 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation. The youth protected are often referred to as “Dreamers.” The Dreamers have done nothing wrong, they were simply born to undocumented parents or brought into this country as children. Dreamers should not have to deal with these repercussions because coming to America was out of their control.
 
DACA has afforded Dreamers the chance to live and work in the U.S legally. The program has also improved the lives of a quarter million talented, intelligent, and deserving young people who have made the most of the opportunities given to them. By dismantling DACA, President Trump is taking those opportunities away.
 
Dreamers embody the true ideals and principles of what it means to be American.  Like many of our ancestors and even grandparents, they were brought into this country in hopes of having better lives and opportunities. This is the history of many American immigrants. DACA applicants even applied and paid for a government program that allowed them to do so lawfully. Now they face the possibility of being sent back to potentially dangerous countries they have never known. This decision is not only against our American values, it is extremely cruel and inhumane.
 
One argument against DACA is that the program is a threat to our national security and allows those with criminal records to reside in the U.S. This is false. This program was created by the Department of Homeland Security, and potential applicants are vetted through a vigorous process.  Criminal activity and records can lead to ones status being revoked. To be eligible the undocumented young people must have entered the US before age 16 and lived there since June 15, 2007. They cannot have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012.
 
DACA is just one component to a complex and divided immigration policy debate. Even though the DREAMERS is one of the most sympathetic and agreeable plans, how our leadership addresses and handles DACA will reflect on their immigration stance as a whole. Politics are once again taking priority over the lives of people.
 
Some of the strongest arguments against DACA is that the participants take resources and programs away from American born citizens that need them. This is not the case considering DACA recipients are ineligible for government support programs such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, Welfare, Section 8, and ACA. 
 
Many DACA applicants’ lives are vastly improved once they have been accepted into the program. In a Center for American Progress survey of roughly 3,000 DACA recipients, nine-tenths of respondents said they had jobs. Their average hourly wage was $17.46 an hour, up from $10.29 before receiving DACA. About 72 percent of respondents were pursuing higher education. And lastly, after getting DACA, almost 80 percent of respondents said they got driver’s licenses and about half became organ donors. This shows how vital these programs are for improving the lives of people that reside in this country and the importance having lawful programs like DACA in place.
 
The Center for American Progress estimated that the U.S. would lose about $460 billion in GDP over the next 10 years without DACA and about 700,000 people could lose their jobs. This shows that the Dreamers are a vital part of our economy and productive participants in our workforce.
 
In a campus-wide email, Colorado State University President Tony Frank addressed the decision to rescind DACA, taking a strong stance on supporting Dreamers. He also revealed that 189 Dreamers attend CSU. Dismantling DACA not only makes a national impact, it affects the lives of our classmates and community members.  
 
As Tim Cook, Apple CEO with 250 Dreamer employees stated in a tweet, “[Dreamers] deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values. They contribute to our companies and communities just as much as you or I. Apple will fight for them to be treated as equals.”
 
We must follow the examples of Apple and President Tony Frank; we must act. In the past few days there has been an outbreak of protest and rallies in light of the DACA decision. Like our University President, we must use our voices and reach out to lawmakers and members of congress. ACLU Action and online petitions are easy and accessible options to show support.
 
Ending DACA is not a decision regarding  ‘protecting our borders.’ This is a plan that could result in the deportation of young people who were brought and grew up in this country as children. Most Dreamers have lived here most of their lives. They have grown up as Americans. They speak English, attend our schools, and shop in our grocery stores. Many not only love this country but they fight and serve in our military, work in our businesses, and contribute to our economy.
 
This moment will be a defining piece in our country’s history. This is not simply about the future of the Dreamers but the future of our country and who we are as a people. We are a nation of the brave, the opportunity seekers. We must defend the Dreamers. We must defend our American values.
 
Columnist Jayla Hodge can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @Jaylahodge.