The government’s lack of bipartisanship surrounding DACA puts Dreamers’ lives in legislative limbo

In Opinion
(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan)

While the bills surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are quickly proposed and turned down, America waits restlessly for the government’s final decision. Dreamers can only hope, perhaps even dream, that President Donald Trump’s administration will consider them as Americans.

The real question is, can the Senate get a majority vote for the new bill to pass? The truth is, most likely not. Neither side can agree on anything, as they blame one another instead of trying to make sure that legislative action benefits the people.

There can be no more bargaining. These are real human lives that hang in the balance. There can be no more “what-ifs” for them. A decision has to be made now.

For Dreamers, this next month may be the most important time of their lives. The previous Feb. 8 funding deadline has come and gone, resulting in two government shutdowns with the Senate nowhere closer to reaching a compromise.

Dreamers have been placed in limbo as they wait for the fast-approaching March 5 deadline, justifiably afraid of the future. Because nothing has passed, the fate of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients is up in the air, as the decision may be pushed back even further.

History seems to be repeating itself as of late. America was founded by immigrants. However, not everyone sees it that way, and Dreamers are now being used as a tool to further the conservative political agenda. Progress comes, but it quickly fades into darkness thanks to self-centered thinking and short-sighted decisions from those in power.

Trump said Democrats are doing nothing about the issue after they declined his proposal that included a border wall to end chain migration. Also known as family reunification, chain migration allows immigrants already residing in the U.S. to bring family members over the border. He puts the blame solely on Democrats because they refuse to sacrifice the future of Dreamers’ parents by adding an unnecessarily expensive wall.

These are the same Democrats who have been writing and rewriting bills to get any sort of protection for Dreamers.

There is a sliver of hope, however.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to work toward a solution by having DACA bills openly discussed, debated and hopefully finalized Feb. 12.

Rightfully so, because this needs to end now. Dreamers should not be subjected to such uncertainty, as they never asked for it. How could they have? Most of them were children when they came to the United States. The average age of a Dreamer when arriving in the United States is 6 and a half years old, according to FactCheck.org, a site that focuses on reporting the factual accuracy of issues sometimes twisted by politicians.

But many who are eligible don’t apply, not because they are “lazy” as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said to reporters on Feb. 6, but because applying for DACA is an arduous process with sometimes unaffordable legal fees.

 

All Dreamers undergo an extensive criminal background check, according to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a sector of Homeland Security. If they fail, they no longer qualify for DACA. Applicants are required to come to the United States before the age of 16, and must have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007.

DACA also doesn’t give Dreamers amnesty. They have to reapply every two years. The application alone costs $495, and that excludes the cost of hiring lawyers to ensure that the paperwork is being filled out properly and turned in before the deadline.

There is one more opportunity for some form of DACA to pass in late March but until then, every Dreamer who willingly gave the government their information is at risk of being deported. If March 5 comes and a deal is not reached, more than 900 Dreamers per day could start losing their protections according to a CNN analysis of Department of Homeland Security data.

Congress needs to step up and ensure that DACA is upheld because 689,800 people’s lives depend on this decision.

It’s not as if they had a choice as children to come to America. This country is all they know. This is their home. But Dreamers finally have the ability to choose, and many of them are fighting to be treated as citizens.

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