Last Friday morning, I received the news that President Donald Trump promised he would not be taking away the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This program, from which I benefit, was announced by President Obama in 2012. It allows undocumented students like myself to apply to receive a work permit and protection against deportation. Because of its temporary nature as an executive order, I, along with many others, feared that it could be taken away at any moment as Trump promised in his campaign.
The news came hidden in the rescission of DAPA: another proposed executive order that would have granted a similar protection for parents of children who are citizens and permanent residents. Hearing the news, I felt nothing but anger and wondered why my initial reaction was not happiness. So many doors that had threatened to swing shut in my face as I passed through them were now held open. I could theoretically study abroad, continue to work normally, and live my life without the fear that I would be deported.
I say that this is all theoretical because there have been many cases of people with DACA who continue to be criminalized. After going through the lengthy and expensive process of obtaining DACA and the screening of criminal records, it served them no good under this harsh administration.
Daniel Ramirez Medina was detained for over a month despite having DACA. We also recently heard the story of Juan Manuel Montes who was the first person with DACA to be deported. Not even DACA can protect us from being treated unfairly. Despite this uncertainty, I do acknowledge that it grants us several privileges that others do not have.
I think more about what this means for myself, but the anger remains. I can’t be happy because, even if I am safe, injustices remain in my community. The only thing Trump’s statement on DACA shows is that the divide that already exists in my community continues to grow. Students who are viewed as overachievers continue to be seen as more deserving of basic human rights. The creation of DACA gave an indication that this sentiment was true. Now, the failure to retain DAPA alongside DACA proves it. This goes hand in hand with Trump’s hypocritical idea that he can support DACA while maintaining the notion that he will build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Although we should praise the immense amount of work and activism from the undocumented community that got us here, this is certainly not a time to be thanking Trump. I would be acting selfishly by doing so. As a "DACAmented" student, I cannot forget the millions of others who continue to feel unsafe in this country. We can’t celebrate or take solace in the promise that we should be safe for the next few years. The handful of rights I am granted by the U.S. government is still far out of reach for many others.
I cannot forget all the people who are eligible for DACA but cannot afford to pay its high application fee of $465. I cannot forget all the students who call this country home, just as I do, but are ineligible to apply for DACA themselves because of arbitrary arrival time restrictions. I cannot forget the parents who held out hope for DAPA so they could provide a better future for their children. I cannot forget the parents, mine among them, who see no hope in attaining these rights in their own near future.
We must remember the people for whom it’s too late. We must remember the people who have already been deported. We must remember the families that have been torn apart. We must remember that our community continues to be criminalized. Having DACA does not make us immune to any of these hardships. Not even citizenship can protect people who come from mixed-status families from knowing that they could lose their parents at any moment.
We must continue to fight until the rights necessary to live a life without constant fear are granted to everyone in the undocumented community—not just the ones lucky enough to be getting an education.
Laura S. Veira-Ramirez ’20 is a Crimson editorial editor in Leverett House.
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