The America that proudly claims ‘ land of the free’ isn’t so ‘free’ anymore according to those struggling with citizenship under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Surely, there are a plentiful amount of great things in the states. The reason why many come in search for the “American Dream” are equality, democracy, rights, liberty and opportunity. While some come when they are children, unaware of the grand inequalities awaiting for those that immigrate here.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, is a U.S. immigration program that protects eligible immigrant youth from deportation and work authorization. It was created in June of 2012 under the Obama administration.
Eligible DACA recipients are able to renew their application every two years for a fee of $495. Though, new applications are not accepted anymore according to the National Immigration Law Center.
On the opposing side, the current immigration crackdown has infused panic and fear among communities. President Trump’s administration has been trying to eliminate the DACA program, with their main objective to get the funding for the Trumps proposed border wall.
The recent government shutdown was the longest one in the nation’s history. Trump has fought relentlessly to get an agreement of $5.7 billion to build the wall he promised his supporters.
Although, a new proposal had been offered to the Democrats in congress. In exchange for the wall funding, the President proposed extended protections for dreamers and temporary legislative relief, but it was rejected.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, said the proposal was “Unacceptable and does not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives”.
Following all the immigration controversies, during a 2017 interview about the possible end of the DACA program, Fullerton College Counselor Sylvia Pimentel said, “Undocumented students face multiple uncertainties in the current political climate”.
“Grads to Be” is one of the programs on the Fullerton College campus that provides services and resources for undocumented students.
Talking to students in this program, most wanted to remain anonymous.
A psychology major student , registered under the Assembly Bill 540, has attended Fullerton College for four years. The 21-year-old arrived to the states when he was 10-years-old from Mexico City. His struggle came when he had to communicate, “ I couldn’t really put my voice out there…and I thought I was never going to learn english,” he said.
An 18- year- old student, majoring in Kinesiology also registered under the AB-540 agreed that the limitation set on traveling has been a negative factor in his life. “I feel like I’m trapped in a certain spot. Although, recently I started traveling a bit more going from Anaheim down to the city of Brea… I really wish I could see the world,” he said.
Another common fear in foreign students is deportation. A detrimental action to those being separated from their families and communities.
A 20-year-old Sociology major at Fullerton College arrived from Michoacan, Mexico to California when she was an infant. She has been a DACA recipient for almost six years. All of her family is in Mexico, some of whom she has not yet met.
“The sacrifice was having to choose between: ‘do I want to go meet my grandma for the first time or do I want to attain a higher education’ it’s either one or the other, I couldn’t have both,” she said. Her grandmother passed away in October of 2018.
Being undocumented to her has been challenging, but it has also been her “motivation to strive for a higher education and not give up.”
The Fullerton College campus also held an “Immigration Rights and Advocacy Lecture” during the end of February, where the community came together to get informed about updates on our current immigration issues with all the changes President Trump has in plan.
“DACA is a huge advantage, but since it’s a program it’s temporary… I know a lot of students that have better grades than most, but they can’t apply because they don’t meet the requirements,” said the 29-year-old student Andres Martinez.
At least 122 DACA recipients are losing their protection everyday, and the fate of DACA remains inconclusive according to the Center for American Progress.
There are plenty of resources at Fullerton College many students aren’t aware about. FC United is one of the groups on campus that strive to empower and educate students.
“You’re with us, there’s no need to be afraid and not feel included,” said the 18-year-old kinesiology major.
For more information you can contact the Organizer of Student Leadership Development at: firstname.lastname@example.org .