In a truly callous and cruel move the Trump Administration announced that they will eliminate a program that has allowed millions of immigrant young people to gain protection from deportation and find opportunities in work and education. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has helped to keep families together and make young people in our community feel safer.
This decision means that the more than 800,000 young people who put their trust in the government and provided their information in order to receive a DACA permit are now living in fear and uncertainty. We have heard about people taken from hotel rooms and domestic violence survivors removed from courtrooms by predatory deportation forces. Now young people across the country are forced to wonder if they will be next. This is simply unconscionable.
Immigrants are already contributing to their communities and working to provide a better life for themselves and their children. It is the archaic and cruel policies that make it difficult for people to do so. We need to fix this broken system and do all we can to keep families together – not eliminate a program that has given so many people a feeling of hope and safety.
And let’s be frank, if DACA, a program that provides support to undocumented people is being halted, so should deportations until we fix our broken immigration system.
We should be supporting legislation like the bipartisan BRIDGE Act, which would allow people who are eligible for or who have received work authorization and temporary relief from deportation through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to continue living in the U.S. with permission from the federal government. We should remove the barriers that exist to the ability of immigrants to care for their families by getting rid of waiting periods or prohibitions on health care access that make it impossible for many immigrants to get the care they need. We should expand programs like “I Drive Colorado” to ensure that all drivers on our roads are trained and licensed and that we can all regardless of immigration status transport our kids to school and work and church in safety.
Finally, we should immediately stop all deportations until common sense, compassionate, truly comprehensive reform is accomplished. We cannot punish people or harm families and communities for falling through the cracks or getting caught up in an unworkable and defective system. The money being spent to fund the discriminatory dragnet pushing through deportations and scaring people in our community could be better used to fund programs that improve and ensure community health. And let’s be frank, if DACA, a program that provides support to undocumented people is being halted, so should deportations until we fix our broken immigration system.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that he believes this is an issue that Congress should address. We urge members of Congress to not only protect DACA, but to take steps to create truly comprehensive, compassionate and common sense reform of our country’s immigration system. We can and should do more to ensure that we can all realize the American dream of hope, freedom and equal opportunity.
This is not the first time this administration has attacked immigrants. We will continue to speak out and to organize and to fight any policy or any decision undermine our health, dignity and rights. We are here to stay to be with undocumented people in our community. Immigrants are here to stay. A strong, vocal, organized Latinx community is here to stay in this fight. We are not going anywhere.”
By Cristina Aguilar
Cristina Aguilar, is the Executive Director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).