DACA: One year of uncertainty, one year of fighting back

September 5, 2018

Today is the one-year anniversary of this administration’s unnecessary and destructive decision to expose over 800,000 DREAMers to deportation by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This critical program, which continues to enjoy overwhelming support from the American public, has protected immigrant youth for over six years from being forced out of the only country they have ever known. The DACA program is an important lifeline for immigrant communities, including South Asians; there are at least 5,500 DACA recipients from India and Pakistan alone, and an additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 individuals from Pakistan who are eligible for DACA.

A study just released by United We Dream and others last month shows that DACA recipients experience both economic benefits and uncertainty. Ninety-six percent of DREAMers are enrolled in school or employed, 78% have experienced an increase in their wages, but over 50% are worried about themselves or a family member being deported, and over 70% worry about not seeing their children grow up.

This comes as no surprise as Congress has transformed DACA into a political football in the last year. Lower courts, even as recently as last week, have consistently reaffirmed the constitutionality of DACA, which has allowed current DACA recipients to remain in the country and renew their status. However, our federal government continues to abdicate its leadership and keep DREAmers under constant threat of losing their status. Congress refuses to pass legislation to codify the program into law and provide DREAMers a path to citizenship, which over 80% of Americans support. As a result, nearly 25,000 DREAMers have already lost their status making them targets for deportation by this administration.

DREAMers from all communities are unified in refusing to trade their status for legislation that would escalate immigration enforcement, family separation, and deportation. South Asian American DREAMer leaders, including Chirayu Patel and Ruchir– both of whom have built their lives here, and know no other home but the United States—have stood strong and rejected this devastating bargain.

“This administration’s rescission of the DACA program has turned my life upside down in the only country I call home,” said South Asian DREAMer leader Chirayu Patel. “With less than 12 months to go until my DACA status expires, everything my family has built and contributed in this country for over the last 24 years is now at risk. I have continued to organize by speaking to my local, state, and federal representatives to pass a permanent solution to uncertainty. However, this administration has failed to consider any bipartisan proposal and continues the deportation of thousands of immigrants in a similar situation to mine. Today, on the one-year anniversary of the DACA termination announcement, we will continue to mobilize our communities to make our voices heard. The time is now for a permanent bipartisan solution for undocumented immigrants that enables them to build their lives in the only country they call home.”

“The DACA fiasco is emblematic of political gamesmanship. Caught in the crosshairs of politics and hate, DREAMers find themselves wanted by all except those in power,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together. “Rescinding DACA was catastrophic, and the Congressional chaos that has followed can only be termed cowardly. The time for forcing false bargains on the backs of immigrant families is over: time and again, this administration has sought to pit our communities against each other rather than find a true legislative fix. We are here to stay. We will continue fighting for policies that welcome our communities and family members as core to this nation’s soul. We remain unbowed.”