DREAMers in Limbo

What Will the Future Bring for DACA-mented Students


Kamille Ritchie, Cactus Editor

Eighteen days into his presidency, and President Trump is making good on his promises. Polices have shifted severely. Among many changes, one particular issue remains in limbo. Will DACA be renewed? As this moment Mr.Trump has taken no action against the matter, but many families, and many students are still nervous. Mr. Trump’s decision can literally make .or break undocumented or DACA-mented families.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy established by former President Barrack Obama in 2012. The policy’s purpose is to protect eligible immigrant youth, who were brought to the States at a young age, from deportation. Through DACA, youths are 1.) reprieved from deportation and 2.) given a work permit. The program expires after two years, and students need to renew their application. Students are subject to a 500-dollar fee each time they resubmit. With the work permit, students are able to have basic necessities, such as a bank account. To clarify, DACA is not a program that provides handouts. Nor does it provide a pathway for citizenship for undocumented individuals, a common misconception. DACA is not a variation of the DREAM act, an act proposed, but not implemented in 2001 that provides a route for citizenship.
The way DACA is implemented in higher education varies from state to state. Here in Arizona, DACA-mented students qualify for in-state tuition. According to Dr. Carol Johnson, founder of the DREAMers club on campus, this a result of a 2012 lawsuit against the Maricopa Community College district by the State for issuing in-state tuition with work permit. Following Maricopa winning the lawsuit, all ten community college districts said they would grant in-state tuition to DACA-mented students. Arizona’s public universities also grant in-state tuition to DACA-mented students following the Arizona Board of Regents’ decision.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump expressed his intent to repeal DACA once he entered into office. As mentioned earlier, nothing has yet been done to DACA, but some Trump supporters are wondering when action will be taken. Since its implementation, many citizens have criticized DACA. Sources say many individuals remark that the policy “wrongfully rewards immigrants who came to this country illegally,” and “grants the “amnesty” and opportunities in a country they don’t belong.” When asked about what she thought on the criticism, Dr. Johnson conveyed her understanding of their sentiment, but suggested people with this initial reaction should hear some of the stories of these undocumented individuals.
“DACA has actually benefitted communities… and education is a big right that the DREAMers fight for. The more educated our community, the better off we all are.” Based on knowledge of several empirical economic studies, Dr. Johnson explains that undocumented individuals, even without DACA, put more into public profits then they take out. Although many people claim that the undocumented individuals are using our benefits, that is far from true. Most undocumented individuals will avoid seeking public assistance because they want to remain as anonymous as possible. If someone does not want people to know they are here, they won’t draw attention to themselves.
At this point, the opposition has often not taken the time to humanize the situation. If more individuals took the time to educate themselves on DACA, and listen to the stories of the undocumented, perhaps there would be less hostility towards the program. “The personal stories of people is the most powerful tool we have.” Statistics and economics relating to DACA provide an opportunity for individuals to get an understanding as well. “It’s tough to get out and educate people, that’s why I’m starting here with the college. Our employees, faculty, and staff are well aware of what’s happening in communities,”added Johnson.
Here at CAC, Dr. Johnson has created a club for DACA-mented students that provides sanctuary, and helps educate allies on the situation and with information needed to enlighten communities. Another goal of the club is to gather together all the scholarships and resources available to undocumented or DACA-mented individuals. At this moment, it is unclear how many DACA students are at CAC. At least nine CAC students are a part of the DREAMers, but there’s plenty of room for more.
To those individuals who feel the future seems bleak, and are uneasy because of the uncertainty, it’s important to remember not to give up hope. Many states are working on legislatures to help accommodate DACA-mented individuals should Mr. Trump repeal the policy. There are many people working diligently to protect DACA-mented individuals.
If you would like more information on CAC’s DREAMers club or would like to get involved, please contact Michelle Gomez at 520-494-5380.