Things That Matter

People Across The Nation Are Coming Together To #DefendDACA

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was first announced by the secretary of Homeland Security on June 15, 2012, marking a major victory for hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people in the U.S. For the first time, people were able to come out of the shadows to get work permits, attend college and contribute to the economy of the country they all call home. Five years later, DACA is at stake because of a lawsuit against the federal government led by Texas. DACA is an executive order that was signed by President Obama in August 2012, meaning President Trump has the authority and capability to rescind it. Here’s how DACA has gone from a new proposal to a program at risk, and how some politicians are trying to save it.

August 15 is the Day Of Action to #DefendDACA.

The Tom K. Wong, United We Dream, National Immigration Law Center, and Center for American Progress National Survey spoke with DACA beneficiaries, also called Dreamers, about their educational and employment opportunities since getting on the program. Results from the study show that 95 percent of people who are on DACA are either working or in school. Furthermore, the survey shows that DACA beneficiaries are contributing to the U.S. economy in several different industries, including the nonprofit sector, educational and health services and professional and business services.

DACA beneficiaries are using the program to go to school, get jobs, get better pay and contribute to the U.S. economy in positive ways.

“DACA has given me the ability to work. It has given me the ability to actually fulfill my dreams. It’s so basic,” Emmanuel Ramos Barajas, a mitú video producer, says. “It just allows you to work. Without being able to work, I can’t do any of the things that I want to do. I think a lot of people take that for granted, the right to work. Without that right to work, I can’t do any of things that I want to do that I’ve prepared my whole life to do even if I went to university and I graduated with my bachelor’s.”

Despite studies showing that the program is working to benefit the U.S. economy, 10 states are threatening to sue the federal government if the program isn’t rescinded by President Trump.

Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia all joined in a lawsuit aimed at eliminating the proposed program Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). When Trump became president, DAPA, which was introduced in 2014, was rescinded. At that time, Trump and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly promised that DACA would remain in place. The original lawsuit was solely focused on DAPA, but these states have threatened Trump with a lawsuit tailored to go after DACA if he doesn’t rescind the program.

If the case against DACA makes it to the courts, officials in immigration have already said it might not withstand a legal battle.

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In July, Sec. Kelly met with members of Congress alert them that DACA would likely fail a court case questioning its constitutionality. Congressman Luis Gutierrez informed the press and activists that DACA is in real jeopardy.

Dreamers lead the fight for DACA. Now that it is at risk, some beneficiaries are calling people to join together to renew the fight to protect what they helped create.

“I feel like, at this time, the best thing to do is to stick together and protect our community,” Ramos Barajas says. “It’s a very scary time, honestly, because even though I don’t think about it every day, in the back of my head I know that I can wake up tomorrow to the news that DACA has been overturned and I won’t have a job. Everything that I have worked for my entire life will be on hold indefinitely until I figure out what to do. It wouldn’t be fair because this is my home. This is where I’ve made my life; where all of my friends and family live.”

Julio Salgado is an artist and a Dreamer. He uses his art as a form of activism to bring attention to the fight for DACA and the lives of undocumented youth, particularly queer youth.

“I think taking DACA away is a way to show that this administration is not joking when they promised anti-immigrant policies,” artist Julio Salgado says.

“DACA is one of the few things that undocumented organizers won aside from all the deportations they stopped,” Salgado says. “If DACA goes away, it sure will be an inconvenience. But I’m a hustler. I am an immigrant. I have survival skills. Don’t let those sci-fi movies fool you into thinking that only white people survive horrific life circumstances.”

In response to the threat, four senators introduced a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The Dream Act, introduced by Republicans Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, would allow for undocumented immigrants and DACA beneficiaries to become citizens. It would be a long process but the bill, which has garnered bipartisan support, effectively creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

It wouldn’t be an immediate jump to citizenship because there are certain criteria people would have to meet.

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According to the National Immigration Law Center, this is the proposed process:

  • Current DACA beneficiaries would be granted a conditional permanent residency. People who are on Temporary Protected Status and people with final orders of removal would have a chance to apply for the same status.
  • After eight years as a conditional permanent resident, people can apply to become lawful permanent residents if they go to college, have worked for a certain amount of time or served in the U.S. military.
  • After five years as a lawful permanent resident, people would then be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Ramos Barajas believes The Dream Act is a good step forward if it gets passed.

“I don’t think it’s a solution across the board because the immigration system is completely broken so that needs a complete overhaul but this, let’s call it a Band-Aid, would be so helpful because it would allow millions of young people to enter into the workforce,” Ramos Barajas says. “It’s not just people doing every day stuff, it would also be people motivated to work in law and in medicine. These things are all beneficial because if you have lawyers and politician who understand the issues because they have lived through them, for them it’s going to be much more personal and they are going to go out and try to make these things happen.”

“We cannot allow the lives of these young Americans to be threatened, and the chants of white supremacists to thrive,” Julissa Arce, an immigration activist, wrote in an op-ed for mitú.

“DACA has changed the lives of many of these young people; in the same way Texas changed my life in 2001,” Arce wrote.


READ: DACA Has Made It Possible For 800k Young People To Work Legally In America. Today People Fight To Protect It.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

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