Without a permanent solution from Congress, Dreamers will be deportedByTania Chairez
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Awaiting news about college admissions is both a nerve-wracking and exciting time for high school seniors each spring. It’s no wonder there are over 14 million videos posted by students documenting their reactions, whether joyful or disappointed, to the outcome.
But there is one group of high school seniors who are awaiting a decision that is much bigger than where they will go to college: those who came to the United States as children and are currently part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. These students are just some of the 800,000 young people, often called Dreamers, who passed the rigorous background checks required to gain permission through DACA to strive for a better tomorrow by residing, studying, and working in America.
However, DACA is living on borrowed time since the Trump administration announced the rescission of the program last September. Despite the fact that DACA has widespread bipartisan support in Congress and approval from over 80 percent of Americans, lawmakers have failed to pass a permanent solution that will allow the Dreamers to stay in this country. Now a temporary injunction issued by two federal judges is the only thing standing between Dreamers and deportation orders.
This issue is personal for me because as a college success counselor for KIPP Colorado Schools, a network of six public charter schools, I support students from immigrant families as they navigate through college on their journey toward a degree.
But without a long-term fix for DACA, my students are in limbo and can’t plan for the future they have worked so hard to achieve. These promising young people face not only the end of their college dreams, but also anxiety about deportation that permeates all of their decisions.
One of my students who worked hard at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School gained admission to the University of Redlands in California as a first-generation college student. Her journey out of state would have been challenging under any circumstances, but when DACA was rescinded, the threat of deportation made it doubly difficult for her to feel welcome among her peers. The worry that her family could be made to leave the United States at any minute while she is away from home has fueled a unique sense of helplessness for her about how to persevere through college.
Another student I advise has been studying at the University of Northern Colorado as a DACA recipient. She plans to apply for nursing school programs, but if DACA disappears, it will be virtually impossible for her to acquire the professional licensing needed to become a nurse. And this could undermine more than just her hard work, as Colorado is already projected to have a shortage of more than six thousand nurses by the end of the year. Losing a qualified nursing candidate like her will only compound the problem.
These are just two of the many students in Colorado and across the country whose lives are on hold while Congress stalls on DACA. I know their stories well because I, too, am a DACA recipient who came to the U.S. as a child.
As an undocumented student, I had to work twice as hard to pursue my goals. I graduated from high school and earned a degree from President Trump’s alma mater, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. When DACA was enacted, I was finally able to work legally and I chose to enter education so I could help other students like me to pursue their dreams. But despite my college degree and professional career, my situation is no less precarious than that of other DACA recipients.
Without a permanent solution from Congress, we all face the risk that we will be deported, separated from our families, and sent out of the only country we’ve called home nearly our whole lives. This reality means that rather than studying and interviewing for jobs like other people our age, we’re forced to make emergency plans in case of detention.
That’s why the time has come to act on DACA because my students and I need to make crucial decisions now that will impact our lives forever. And while lawmakers know that resolving DACA is the right thing to do, they need to hear from voters that this issue matters.
If you believe that young people enrolled in DACA like my students — and me — are worthy of your support, I ask you to call or write your representative in Congress today and urge action. Your decision to speak out could allow thousands of DACA recipients to cast off fear and uncertainty and instead embrace our dream of contributing to the economy, the community and the future of America.