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Part 1. Introduction: A Look at DACA
At a time of great political division within the U.S. population, the topic of undocumented immigration is controversial, particularly when focusing on the matter of status for non-authorized residents, even those who were brought to the U.S. as minors through unlawful entry.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program designed to give a reprieve from deportation to those who arrived as children, has benefited some 700,000 individuals, most of whom likely had as little influence on the events leading up to finding themselves present in the U.S. as those born on U.S. soil. Many of the young people eligible for DACA have lived in the U.S. for nearly their entire lives, have parents who have struggled to give them a future in the country, and know no other home. Yet with no status in the U.S. and nowhere else to turn, they are forced to live in constant fear of the looming threat of deportation. The 2011 Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would have given status and a potential future in the U.S. to this group of individuals, presented one of many shattered dreams when it failed to pass. When DACA was announced and took effect in 2012, it created new hopes. Those who qualified for the program became commonly referred to as the “DREAMers” (hereinafter referred to as the “Dreamers”), as they also made up most of the population that would have qualified for the DREAM Act.
The circumstances around Dreamers present a compelling case for putting procedures in place that would enable them to lawfully remain in the U.S. With their history of being productive— working, studying, and protecting the U.S. through military service—as well as their promise of growth toward accomplishing so much more, overlooking an unlawful entry into the U.S. and enabling fulfilment of this dream would hardly be a form of forgiveness; it would be a rational solution to a unique predicament. Given that Dreamers are ideal immigrants who likely already speak English fluently, have studied in the U.S., and are serving as hard workers in many different sectors, it is in the country’s best interest to grant them, at the very minimum, immediate status and a pathway to citizenship, the equal footing on U.S. soil that they have earned.
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