College students feel more secure in society by participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, act for the remaining time they have with it.
DACA recipients are commonly referred to as Dreamers, after the Dream Act that was introduced in 2001. The Dream Act was created to provide a range of benefits to help create a path to citizenship for people who were brought into the United States illegally as children.
On June 15, 2012, Barack Obama announced the DACA program that gave young people temporary permission to stay in the U.S. for two-year periods.
DACA has affected young immigrants positively by giving them the opportunity to receive a social security number, driver’s license and work permit. Since DACA permits participants to work, they can receive health insurance from their employers. They may even qualify for state-subsidized health care depending on where they live.
DACA recipient, Maria Aguado, believes that the act has given her an incentive to strive to achieve her dreams while attending Lehigh University. Aguado was brought to the United States at a young age with her mom and dad. Her parents put in an application for her to become a citizen years ago, but due to uncertain complications, she couldn’t go through with it. Many may think that becoming a U.S. citizen would be the solution to the problem, however this isn’t the case.
“DACA’s application process was less complicated but it is not a permanent solution,” Aguado said.
Applying for DACA is not the easiest process and not granted for just anyone either. However, the benefits offered to Dreamers make the application process worth it.
To be able to qualify as a Dreamer, recipients must be enrolled in high school or already have a diploma or G.E.D. People with a serious criminal history are not eligible to participate in the program.
Aguado explains how DACA granted her opportunities that she never had to worry about until the age of 16.. “The existence of the act has affected me positively because before I applied for it I didn’t have my driver’s permit,” Aguado said.
DACA recipient, Gabe Campuzano, has dreams of becoming a lawyer to bring justice into the system he describes as “corrupt.” He’s very thankful for DACA, and concluded that without DACA he wouldn’t have been able to achieve his dream of receiving a college education.
“It was pretty expensive to apply for DACA but it was worth it because without it I wouldn’t even be at school,” Campuzano said.
However, the program does not provide a granted pathway to citizenship. Giving Dreamers the opportunity to receive the benefits the act offers creates a different depiction of what it’s like to be a U.S. citizen by being able to apply for school, loans, jobs and insurance. Penn State student and DACA recipient, Sergio Avila, recognized how illegal immigration is a problem in the United States, and how DACA provides a resolution for thousands of young immigrants by allowing them the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
“I think DACA is only part of the solution since it doesn’t guarantee any type of legal status, ” Avila said.
Dreamers seek citizenship to be able to hold all the advantages given to them. Having to renew their temporary permission every two years helps give them incentive to pursue permanent citizenship.
Trump’s latest remarks on how he doesn’t want to support DACA has created an uproar of controversy between Democrats and Republicans. Trump decided to end DACA last September, but during his State of the Union address this year, Trump presented a four-pillar immigration policy that offered DACA recipients a solution by creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and would offer more paths to people then the previous administration; however, Democrats did not agree because the policy would have to create funding for a wall along the Mexican border and the current visa system will be restructured to favor work skills over families.
Dreamers are not in danger of being deported yet, however. After hearing about the ending of DACA, recipients quickly took action to apply to renew their statuses one last time.
“I do worry about the future of DACA under the Trump administration, but I try not to dwell on it too much. I think there are a lot of people, not just undocumented people, that understand the need to defend Dreamers. I am hopeful that people will continue to push for what’s right, and in the mean time I am grateful that I will be under DACA for at least two more years,” Aguado said.
Recipients remain hopeful that Congress will find a solution because, without DACA, they will begin to lose all the benefits they had the ability to acquire and will eventually be deported.
Even though the future of DACA remains unknown, Penn State University continues to support DACA. Penn State’s Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) provides great services for students looking to embrace diversity and promote broad acceptance of differences. The MRC provides counselors that work with students to help them achieve their goals and graduate. You can visit the Multicultural Resource Center in 314 Old Main Building.