Zu Magazine is a publication of Zu Media. Below is an article from Issue 1: Skins.
Staff Writer | Dani Herrera
On June 15, 2017, the Trump Administration ended Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and on September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The end of these federal programs were met not just with outrage, but with a strengthened sense of community. Universities throughout California offered counseling to help inform students of their rights, companies offered to pay the nearly $500 program renewal fee and late night talk shows used their voices to spread awareness and support.
DACA was put in place by former president Barack Obama on June 15, 2012. He created this program after Congress failed to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act .
Since then, 787,580 immigrants have been approved for the program. DACA allows these undocumented immigrants, also known as “DREAMers,” to stay in this country, and get a driver’s license, a work permit and a college education. Most Dreamers were brought to the United States illegally by their parents and at a young age.
Recipients must complete paperwork, get fingerprinted, and pay application fees and income tax, among other things, to be considered for its benefits. To qualify, DACA recipients must have been under the age of 13 in June 2012 or have arrived in the United States at age 16 or younger and lived in the U.S. continuously since 2007.
DACA recipients can renew their DACA status until October 5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that new applications will not be approved going forward. This means over 300,000 people could lose their status in the beginning of the new year and be deported to a country they’ve never known.
“My parents came here when I was one. I don’t remember what Mexico is like; I’ve only seen home videos. But I love America — the music, the diversity, American football — it’s what I know,” said Gustavo Lopez, a California State Fullerton senior.
Congress has six months from the announcement date to find a new alternative to the program. According to the Guardian, “Trump says a deal to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children would include ‘massive border security’, but ‘the wall will come later.’” A new legislative plan has yet to be introduced.
Despite the uncertainty, some Dreamers are looking for a silver lining.
“I think something good will happen out of this. You have to be informed, you have to know your history and you have to give something to get something back. I just don’t think Trump will get rid of it and I think Congress will do something good for us. You just have to be positive,” Zaida Lora, a junior at Cal Poly Pomona, said.
Many Americans have come to the aid of Dreamers. There are scholarships, like those offered by a California nonprofit, the Mission Asset Fund, that will pay the renewal fee. Companies like Facebook, Uber and Microsoft have publicly opposed rescinding the program. Sites such as www.undocupower.com and www.unitedwedream.org allow people to donate to Dreamers.
According to Lora, many Dreamers have been living in the shadows. They are taught to keep their heads down and not to protest or be the cause of any type of attention.
“Everyone might not know the meaning of what DACA or what we do is and how we’ve been under the shadows. I don’t think they understand the meaning of what we go through,” Lora said.
Misconceptions about DACA
Some Americans believe that DACA recipients receive a free college education. On the contrary, Dreamers must pay for their schooling and they cannot apply to receive Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Another misconception is that Dreamers are exempt from paying taxes. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, DACA recipients contribute $2 billion a year in taxes.
Dreamers have been called criminals, but a clean criminal record is part of DACA requirements.
“People think the program puts us at an unfair advantage. It doesn’t. In reality, it’s just leveling the playing field. We’re not stealing your jobs; we’re just trying to compete,” Lopez said.
Economic Contributions of DACA
A 2017 study by the Center for American Progress found that “97 percent of [DACA] respondents are currently employed or enrolled in school.” Among those in school, 72 percent are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Sixty-five percent of Dreamers in the study reported buying their first car.
The Center for American Progress also found that since the launch of DACA in 2012, recipients have, on average, reported receiving a 45 percent higher pay increase because of the opportunities that DACA afford them.
Eight percent of DACA respondents aged 25 and older in the survey started their own businesses, and 24 percent reported buying their first home.
Since the decision, protests have erupted throughout the nation. Six Dreamers have sued the Trump administration for not following “proper administrative procedure in rescinding DACA,” Reuters reported. Many Dreamers have taken to writing about their experiences and making social media pages dedicated to helping others in the same situation as them. The message is clear: they will not be in the shadows anymore and they will be heard.