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.”