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Opinion: Biden Must Renew DACA

The termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2017 left "Dreamers" on the edge of deportation to countries they barely call home.

Have you ever paused to imagine the disturbing journey of growing up in a country you call home, only to face the possibility of being dropped off in the one where you were born but barely know?

The termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2017 left numerous individuals, often referred to as “Dreamers,” on the edge of deportation to countries they barely call home.

DACA is a vital lifeline for those who arrived in the United States (U.S.) as children, protected from deportation, and given the chance to contribute meaningfully to the workforce and rich cultural diversity of the U.S. However, recent legal battles have cast a shadow over the future of DACA.

In 2021, District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas labeled DACA illegal, a decision challenged by the Biden Administration in 2022. Unfortunately, in 2023, Hanen upheld his stance, leaving us disheartened by the lack of commitment to this essential program.

The consequences of Hanen’s decision run deep and make many dreamers feel unsafe in their position. Around 600,000 DACA recipients now stand in the unknown on what the future of DACA is and potential new Dreamers who could qualify for the program but do not have access to it anymore, face the chances of deportation.

Although Hanen decided to name DACA illegal, he only prohibited the government from accepting new applications but allowed current DACA recipients to keep their protections and file for renewals.

According to fwd.us, an organization advocating immigration reform, nearly all Dreamers have graduated high school, with over half securing some college education. Many are actively contributing to the workforce, plugging crucial gaps in healthcare and education, and even standing on the frontlines of the U.S. military.

The economic impact of DACA recipients is not just a number. It is proof of their unquestionable contribution of 13.3 billion dollars to the U.S. economy. Not only do the Dreamers contribute economically, but also with all the rich cultural diversity they bring to the country. Dreamers have started building their families and careers in the United States.

For individuals like my father, who arrived in the United States as children and not only contributed to the U.S. economy without legal protection against immigration but also started a family and career in the U.S., the dread of being sent back to unfamiliar lands has become a familiar nightmare.

Unfortunately, my father, lacking the protective shield that Dreamers temporarily now possess, was deported.

I sit on the other end of this situation: I grew up without my father physically being able to be here with me. It meant he and I lost crucial moments for father and daughters, e.g., high school and college graduation. I missed having the important father and daughter dance at my 15th birthday (quinceanera) because he could not be there physically.

Ensuring that others do not have to endure his hardships is crucial, emphasizing the urgent need for immediate action to prevent history from repeating itself. On a personal note, as a proud University of Southern California (USC) graduate student, I advocate for individuals like my father to ensure they do not end up in a situation like his.

My journey has inspired my commitment to fighting for justice and compassion to provide the American Dream for everyone.

The urgency of this matter demands action from the Latinx community and allies nationwide. We need to come together to urge the Biden Administration to put in place an all-inclusive plan to protect Dreamers. Each passing day without a solution increases the risk for these individuals and prolongs a cycle of uncertainty and fear.

Advocacy can be educating others on what DACA is and who “Dreamers” are. In 2018, DACA peaked in media coverage and has died down since. The age of social media is now, and advocacy can also look like posting information and updates on social media, talking about the status of DACA and what Dreamers are at risk of losing if DACA is not renewed on all social media platforms.

In the face of uncertainty, let’s be the advocates, storytellers, and allies Dreamers need. By uniting our voices, we can bring the proper attention that this subject requires. Together, let’s champion a future where no one’s journey is haunted by the fear of deportation and every dream has the opportunity to thrive.

This op-ed was written by Destinee Arce.

About the author

Guest Contributor

The Daily Chela is a new digital media outlet for Chicanos/Latinos that has by cited by NBC News, Yahoo News, Vox, The Washington Post, Fox Sports, former presidential candidate Julián Castro, and the National Association Of Hispanic Journalists.

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