On the morning of Sept. 18, the Trump administration announced that they would be repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In the moments after the announcement was made, the hearts of millions of Americans and immigrants fell. This was a decision rooted in racism and fear, a decision that will be looked back upon with shame and disgust.
When the Obama administration passed the Dream Act in 2012, which included DACA, hundreds of thousands of children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States were legally allowed to continue living in the country.
The establishment of DACA was a huge step forward for the immigrant community in the United States because it gave the younger generations of undocumented immigrants an opportunity to pursue a better life in their current surroundings. It was a sign that they belonged, that they were welcome to live and prosper in the United States.
In Trump’s decision to repeal the act, the lives of approximately 800,000 people are directly affected. These 800,000 people have lived in the United States for a significant portion of their lives, if not their whole lives. They don’t know where home is if it isn’t the United States. DACA doesn’t allow for the recipients to receive either state or federal financial aid for educational opportunities, so their futures have been forged entirely from hard work and discipline. They grew up here, they started their lives and decided what to do with their futures with the assumption that their status under DACA would not change.
As an immigrant, I can understand the magnitude of Trump’s decision to repeal DACA. I was brought from Brazil to the United States when I was eight months old. I did not ask to come, and I had no say in where my parents decided to go. More opportunities for a better life awaited my family and I here, and these opportunities are what have landed me at Guilford College. Brazil is considered a third world country, and most of my family still lives there. Every time I go to visit them they tell me how blessed I am to live in the United States. North Carolina is my home, the only one I have ever known. If I had to permanently return to Brazil, I would struggle. I am not as fluent in Portuguese as my parents. Their education system is drastically different than the United States’, meaning that all of my credentials and accomplishments would go relatively unnoticed. I have no professional connections there. My life would be turned upside down, it wouldn’t be the life I love so much. This is also the case for many of the DACA recipients, but the difference is that the possibility of them returning to their birth country is a very real and prominent possibility in light of Trump’s decision.
Is it fair to blame the voiceless children for their parents’ or guardians’ decision to chase better opportunities? No. It is unjust to try and take away the opportunity for a higher quality education and an increased likelihood for successful jobs or careers because someone else made a choice. We cannot allow for the punishment of DACA recipients for simply just existing and prospering in the country they call home.
It is not just the Dreamers who would be affected by the deportation of 800,000 people from this country. Those who are still here because of DACA play gigantic roles in the community. They are business owners, teachers, customers and fellow students. Without them, there is a great loss of opportunity. We would lose brilliant minds from our classrooms, businesses would close and thousands of jobs would no longer be filled.
The Dream Act has impacted Guilford College in tremendous ways as well. We have had students who were recipients of DACA. Guilford is an accepting community and we have welcomed the Dreamers with open arms. They have brought us new perspectives and new experiences. We are more diverse and better for it.
As students in Greensboro, North Carolina, it may feel like there is little we can do to help our fellow students and neighbors. We can stand up for the Dreamers and show that we do not accept the repeal of DACA, we can call our senators and representatives, we can participate in protests. We can, and should, let the Dreamers dream.