Right to Dream

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they have no idea what it is like

to lose home at the risk of

never finding home again

have your entire life

split between two lands and

becomes the bridge between two countries

- Rupi Kaur


 

That is one of my favorite poems from the collection known as Milk and Honey by the poet Rupi Kaur. It is one of my favorite poems because it speaks to me as an immigrant but also to the immigration situation happening in America and up to you to interpret as you read on. On September 5th, President Donald Trump announced the end of  the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), a program that many Americans are unfamiliar with and unfortunately,its recipients.  

 

For many DACA recipients, they came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday, they are currently enrolled in school or have already graduated high school with a certificate of completion, they had no lawful status as of June 15, 2012 (the day the program was initialized), they have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety. These are the few requirements needed to apply to be a DACA recipient. For many recipients, they do not know of their status until applying for college where they are not eligible for Federal aid amongst other federal benefits such as Social Security and Food Stamps, but they do have to pay income tax. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, DACA recipients contribute $1.2 billion annually in federal, state, and local taxes.

These same recipients are apart of a generation of immigrants that grew up and was raised alongside US citizens. You may not have known that your classmate, or co-worker, your best friend, your relatives or mentor is a DACA recipient. For many of these people, America is the only home they have really ever known because they spent the majority of their life here. They are American in all but the paperwork. One of my friends from high school, a DACA recipient, did not know of his status until he applied for college.

 

“ I was brought over at the age of 8. I can speak Korean just barely, but I have no knowledge of the written language. When I think back, the only memories I have of my childhood is not from Korea, but of America. I remember taking the pledge of allegiance every day in my elementary and middle school, and still remember the words to this day. I truly believe I am a genuine Korean-American. Even my parents would complain how I was being too “American” and losing my sense of culture from my homeland. But this is my home.

The news of my status came as shock and frustration to me. I was unable to go to my dream colleges and universities, not because I got rejected, but because there was no way I could afford it. For the first time in 18 years, I felt unequal to the rest of the people around me. I was angry at my life and my parents. I felt cheated. But I knew that anger doesn’t bring anyone justice. Everyone has obstacles and barriers to overcome, and being able to overcome them makes you a stronger and wiser person. I was very fortunate to receive merit scholarships from Stony Brook University and Temple University. I was given a chance, proving once again that America is truly the land of equality and freedom. I worked hard not because I wanted to, but because I had to”

~ Albert S.

Another friend of mine, also a DACA recipient, writes

 

“ Most of us we're brought to America by our family. We didn't make the decision to come to America. But now we were raised in America, and this is our home now. I was brought to America from Indonesia when I was 7. I accepted America as my home.. this is where I was raised... this is where I see my future at. How can someone that came here at such a young age be put to blame that they came here knowingly that it's illegal. Some of us came here when we we're one years old! Our parents brought us here so we can have a better future. Because we are dreamers. DACA holders are now in risk of getting deported. Imagine yourself being raised in America, all your friends are in America. You have a job here, you bought a house here, You created a family here, You planned your future in America and now you have to go back to your hometown. Where you have no friends, no family members, nothing”                     ~ Melissa O.   

 

Many of the children that are in DACA had no control of the actions of their parents. We do not know the circumstances why each family moved from their home, but we do know that whatever the reason, they had motive to pick up whatever they could carry and leave their homes, friends, and family. David Bier from the Cato Institute calculated that the luckiest DACA recipients would be protected through 2020, but the least lucky would be prone to deportation in March of 2018. The demographics of DACA recipients show that while the majority of children came from Latin America, in 2016, S. Korea, China, India, and the Philippines were apart of the top 10 countries of DACA- eligible populations.

 

One of the reasons I put that poem at the top is because of its first three lines:

they have no idea what it is like

to lose home at the risk of

never finding home again

 

DACA recipients now live in a cloud of uncertainty. Congress has been tasked with only six months to pass an immigration bill that includes DACA. Many now look towards the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) which was proposed in 2001 to allow the legalization of undocumented children, but even that has not passed the Senate in over 15 years, but we are always hopeful.