UVU recently had their silent march against the potential removal of DACA. The march, on September 8th, happened right at our very own Fulton Library. Fellow students took the stage, speaking about what DACA truly meant to them. It started at exactly at 2 pm and continued on well through the hour. After the speakers gave their remark, we set off. Students took the streets, heads high, and signs raised. Their voices silent as they strode through the streets. The march kept to the sidewalks around campus instead of entering campus buildings. Several UCAS students joined the march. All of them walking for what they believed in.
Many speakers told their story. A few of them were part of the DACA program and spoke to us about how deeply they cared to keep this program. While others came to show their support. Everyone who listened had their reasons for being there. Dozens of people came together. The event was hosted by the LULAC at Utah Valley University. Even they weren’t expecting this many people to come together. Dozens of people swarmed together that day, all silently knowing why they were here.
Why did this march happen? What exactly was the reason for this march? Donald J. Trump, on September 5th, called for the end of DACA. Trump, thus came to the conclusion that he would give Congress 6 months to figure out a better solution for DACA before he would begin phasing out DACA. Within these 6 months, undocumented immigrants who have already been granted protection under DACA will not be affected until at least March 5, 2018, reported by USA Today. In addition, if any current DACA recipients have permits that expire before March 5, they will have until Oct. 5 of this year to apply for a two-year extension. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer be accepting new DACA applicants. All dreamers hope Congress will find a better replacement within these 6 months.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The men and women under the DACA program are referred to as Dreamers. The program is meant for undocumented immigrants younger than 30 who were brought to the United States as children. If these immigrants pass certain background checks, they are temporarily then allowed to live, have a work permit and seek education within the country for a 2 year period that can then be renewed. During those 2 years, they may not be deported, and even though they may live in the country, they are not legal citizens. During their time here, they are also able to apply for a U.S. Citizenship and, like every other individual, must also go through the proper procedures. Based on the citizenship and immigration service websites, there are a few guidelines that all people must meet in order to become a part of the DACA program.
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school; have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school; have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate; are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States, and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The Policy was established on June 2012 by a memorandum from the Secretary of Homeland Security titled as the “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.” Former President Obama announced the policy in a speech on the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, a case excluding public schools from charging illegal immigrant children for tuition. This country has certainly taken many large steps since then.
Even with these steps, there was disagreement with this policy; especially concerning the Republican Party. Leaders of the Republican Party denounced the DACA program as “an abuse of executive power.” Nearly all the Representatives voted 224–201 to defund DACA on June 2013. Rep. Steve King of Iowa State stated “The point here is…the President does not have the authority to waive immigration law, nor does he have the authority to create it out of thin air, and he’s done both with these Morton memos in this respect.” However, even with that vote, Congress does not have the ability to defund DACA, since the program is almost entirely funded by its own application fees rather than Congressional funds. Even with such large disapproval, Republican Mitt Romney stated that he would honor the grants of deferred action approved under DACA until a more permanent legislation was put into place.
Once applicants are accepted, they must pay a $495 application fee, as well as other fees. From there. they’re welcome to study, work, and live in the U.S. for a 2 year period. After these 2 years, they are welcome to renew their application for DACA. In the past, applicants needed file their documents during a 30-day window starting 150 days before the expiration of their previous DACA status, and pay the $495 fee again. Now, the renewal process has changed drastically. In these 6 months, as is stated on the official U.S. Citizenship and immigration services website:
- “We are no longer accepting initial or renewal requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. We will consider DACA requests received from residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on a case-by-case basis.
- If you are a current DACA recipient and your still-valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) has been lost, stolen or destroyed, you may request a replacement EAD by filing a new Form I-765 at any time, if the EAD is still valid.
- We will no longer approve advance parole requests associated with DACA.
- Read the 2017 DACA announcement.”
However, if applicants met the initial 2012 DACA guidelines below, then they are able to apply for renewal.
- Did not depart the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since you submitted your most recent DACA request that was approved;
- Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
- Are a current DACA recipient whose benefits expire between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018.
Every individual under the direct influence of the DACA program or who supports DACA has their fingers crossed, hoping that Congress, in these 6 short months, manage to figure out how they’re going to make DACA better. Millions of people rely on DACA each year. Hearing that one day it might be ripped away from fellow supporters, many individuals are frightful of times to come. These 6 months, many changes will happen. Maybe those changes will be for the best. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”
Isn’t this what America is all about?