The End of DACA Will Affect Southwestern

Jordan Shelton-Greene

I’ve been out of college for about five months now, and already I’ve been hit with the pressures of living in the “real world”—juggling job hunting, buying food, helping mom pay rent, and meeting deadlines as a freelance journalist/writer. While dealing with the aftermath of two major hurricanes and the near miss of another government shutdown, one story has risen to the surface of the media world, not only because if its political importance, but because of its wide-reaching effects for a large population of the United States: the repealing of DACA.

Enacted in 2012, the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was put into place by the Executive Action of President Barack Obama after Congress’ failure to pass the DREAM Act, which would have created a path for the children of immigrants to obtain citizenship. DACA allows for a two-year delay of actions, giving recipients the opportunity to obtain work permits, pursue an education at state universities, and obtain medical benefits from the state after paying a fee. Since its implementation, 91 percent of the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients in the United States have found work, earning the name “Dreamers” for seizing the American Dream.

But on September 5, the future of the Dreamers was thrown into limbo due to the Trump Administration’s rescinding of the policy. Congress has been given six months to find a legislative solution or nearly one million undocumented Dreamers will find themselves unable to work and under the threat of deportation. By ending this program, the President has cast a looming shadow over the lives of those who were brought to this country as children; those for whom the U.S has been their only home.

This is an issue that affects Southwestern.

Nearly half of our student body population is Latino/Hispanic. For perspective, let’s assume that half of those student were DACA recipients. If Congress fails to pass replacement legislation for this program, nearly one fourth of the campus’ part-time or full-time students could find themselves unable to re-enroll, unable to attain medical benefits, and subject to immediate deportation. These are your classmate, your tutors, your friends.

My message as a SWAU communication graduate has always been “let’s be real.” This is a real issue. This is not some far off, distant problem, nor something that being enrolled at a Seventh-day Adventist university will shield us from. The rhetoric used to defend DACA’s repeal has been that of protecting U.S. jobs and securing our borders. Yet according to The American Center for Progress, the actual effects of the repeal would cost the country over $400 billion over the next decade, and remove a large portion of the country’s workforce.

Texas has one of the largest concentrations of DACA recipients in the country, second only to California. Dreamers are not the lazy freeloaders that their stereotype would suggest. They are doctors, lawyers, first responders, and contributing members to our communities. I have friends, and family of friends who attend Southwestern who are DACA recipients and will be affected by Congress’ decision. One such friend’s cousin works full-time, is a full-time nursing student, and takes care of two younger siblings all while maintaining a 3.8 GPA average. I know students at our school who work two jobs outside of their school job and still find time to study and stay on top of classes. Dreamers are not only a part of our country’s progress, they are essential to it.

It seems to me that the current administration in Washington has decided to take a risk on closing the DACA program. If Congress finds a solution, great! If they don’t, too bad! But the chance they are taking will affect the lives of nearly a million young men and women who put their trust in this country to protect their rights. My sentiment is that of Mirage from The Incredibles: “The next time you gamble, bet your own life.”

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