This past month, President Trump decided to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program.
This decision was hardly a surprise, considering that he had been weighing the choice for months. Still, that did not change the fact that the cancellation impacts the lives of about 800,000 recipients, who call themselves “Dreamers”.
These recipients, who went through a long, detailed process in order to be granted deferred action and a work permit, are now left with the fear of losing their jobs, educations, and even lives here in the U.S.
President Trump acknowledged this dilemma, and has given Congress until Mar. 5, 2018, to come up with a solution for these individuals and pass legislation.
Since then, five different bills have been introduced and discussed: The Dream Act, Recognizing America’s Children Act, The American Hope Act, BRIDGE Act, and most recently, The SUCCEED Act.
Support for these bills vary throughout Congress, some having bipartisan support and authorship, and others not so much. All but the BRIDGE Act offer a path for qualified individuals to eventually earn their U.S. citizenship, after a certain amount of time.
So where does this mean for DACA Recipients?
Well, there are five bills, five months left until the deadline expires, and a Congress that can’t seem to agree on much.
Although some DACA recipients have the ability to renew their permits for another two years, not everyone in the program can.
Anyone whose permit expires after March have only five months of protection left. While Congress debates their fate, these individuals must live with uncertainty and fear.
It seems both parties are trying to find a solution that best benefits them and their agenda. Some approaches are deemed conservative, while others are seen as far too easy.
Public support also varies on the topic, some thinking that a path to citizenship should be longer, shorter, or non-existent.
As these documents are being debated and picked apart, people seem to forget that the lives of many individuals are at stake.
No one voting on the bill personally knows the fear that DACA recipients face.
These individuals are constantly being told they are not American, despite the fact that this country is all most of them know. Many were too young upon arrival to remember the place they were born.
The United States is home to them. They learned this culture, invested in this nation, grew up hearing that America was built by immigrants. Still, they are told that they do not belong here.
DACA Recipients watch the news and listen to Congress and the president discuss what to do with them, what they signify for the U.S., and what benefits they can bring to the table. They are left uncertain, never quite sure where they stand in this nation.
Democrats and Republicans can afford to wait until a bill benefits them before reaching a solution, but DACA recipients cannot, and they shouldn’t have to.
This issue goes beyond any one person’s political affiliation. It is not about being conservative or liberal. This is about action.
Congress has to look past themselves and come together for these young Americans. These people are depending on them.
This is not a time to make your party look better than the others or to worry about who will get credit for the solution. This is not about Trump or his administration. Congress and the President are factors, but they are not the focus here.
DACA, SUCCEED Act, BRIDGE Act, Dream Act, and all the other potential acts are about the 800,000 people affected, 800,000 human beings who deserve certainty and stability. They deserve to feel welcome in their homes and feel safe that it will not be taken from them.
Saya Meza is a junior studying psychology and politcal science.