When you’re a kid, no matter where you’re from, you depend on your parents for everything. Food, shelter, transportation, all of your decisions are made through them. As you get older, you gain more independence, but you’re still incredibly reliant on them. You may be able to go places alone with friends, but you have to get those trips approved by them. You may get a job, but you aren’t able to pay for housing, food, clothing and utilities with your part-time minimum wage. You may get your license, but you still need their help paying for a car, insurance and gas. As long as you’re living under their roof, and even after you’ve left, you’re dependent on them for a multitude of things. This dependence fades over time, but younger children are incredibly susceptible to it. If a child can’t make their own decision about what color shoes they want, then why should they be expected to decide what country they live in?
When a child crosses the border and enters America undocumented, they have no choice in the matter. Many are unaware of what it means to be an illegal immigrant; they don’t know the consequences of their parents’ decisions. Up until June 2012, they still had to face punishment for decisions they didn’t make. Enter DACA.
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was a policy signed at the end of President Barack Obama’s first term. The executive order created the opportunity for undocumented immigrants who entered the country under the age of 18 to be eligible for a two-year renewable work visa. This would give them the chance to work and be protected from deportation. The policy had many positive benefits, until President Donald Trump rescinded Obama’s executive order and gave an ultimatum to Congress: six months to legalize DACA in some form, or the policy would disappear completely. This cannot happen.
DACA is incredibly beneficial to American society. In fact, since the implementation of DACA, many of the 800,000 recipients have been able to attain heights that they hadn’t been able to before. According to a 2015 study from Caitlin Patler and Jorge Cabrera of the University of California, Los Angeles, 87 percent of surveyed recipients enrolled in some form of higher education after finishing high school and 78 percent said the program made school more affordable as a result of new employment opportunities. 84 percent of DACA recipients were employed, compared to 68 percent employment for those who had not received DACA. According to NPR, there is no indication that these new jobs for recipients have resulted in a lack of employment opportunities for regular citizens.
Those who apply for DACA must have a clean record; they cannot have any sort of major misdemeanors or felonies, or they will be turned down. In fact, according to Fox News, the claim that undocumented residents are often criminals has very little evidence backing it. The recipients of DACA aren’t looking to come into our country with the malicious intent to steal Americans’ jobs, and commit crimes. In fact, those who apply for DACA embody the ideals we are looking for in immigrants when following the process currently in place. They have taken the initiative, and the time, to follow the correct channels and prove their usefulness to society. Without DACA, they wouldn’t be able to contribute nearly as much.
A child shouldn’t have to pay for the choices of their parents, but without DACA, over 800,000 children will. Keeping DACA will ensure the success of nearly a million children who have grown up Americans, even if their birth certificates don’t say so. America is known for being a land of opportunity. Don’t deny these children theirs.