Imagine a child—or a teenager—imagine a child coming home to find it stripped bare with trunks open on the floor stuffed with clothes. A bewildered question is asked to one of the parents walking in and out of bedrooms and the child is told curtly that they are leaving, “going back”. Where? To where they came from—some place that sounds entirely unfamiliar. What does it mean, to “go back”? The child has only the memory of this city they grew up in. While one parent is getting on edge about the child’s questions, the other explains briefly that they are in fact undocumented residents, illegal; that they entered the country under a false name, or stay over their visa period, and until now they were alive only because there were people who are from their country, who are legalized, are willing to take them in for work. The cover was blown today. The child was not born in this country, and is on the flight back to a place they remember little to none the very next day. Now imagine you are that child, landing in an alien place for something you take no responsibility for, facing quite possibly a life of homelessness because your parents have no connections here now.
This scenario is extreme, but not impossible. The Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on June 5, 2012 lowered the chance of anyone under 31 (to that date) that entered the United States illegally before the age of 16 meeting this fate. Over 7 hundred thousand individuals benefited from DACA since its establishment, but on September 5, the rescission of DACA brought this possible future back up again. At least half a million DACA holders face the possibility of deportation in the future, according to statistics from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on DACA approval and renewal in 2015. Morally, it is unthinkable to uproot people promised the freedom to build their lives in the United States.
Opponents of DACA strive to protect America’s borders, but rescinding DACA has nothing to do with border control. DACA recipients, or Dreamers, are already living, working and studying in America. Economic concerns over DACA are equally as unfounded—in fact, even conservative economists generally acknowledge DACA’s positive effects on the economy, as recipients of DACA contribute $2 billion in taxes yearly. In spite of these contributions, Dreamers are not eligible for Medicaid, federal university financial aid, or many other federal benefits that full American citizens enjoy.
It is difficult to judge how much DACA affects Lawrence students. In a time when immigrants are forced to fear for their homes and livelihood, one can hardly expect DACA recipients to publically acknowledge their status. However, the administration is doing its best to support anyone affected by the recession of DACA. At the beginning of the school year, President Mark Burstein sent out an e-mail declaring Lawrence’s mission to continue supporting its students to the fullest extent. President Burstein reiterated the campus’s mission to uphold the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and protect student information as much as legally possible. Burstein’s commitment to student wellbeing and privacy is echoed by the Lawrentian Editorial Board. We commend President Burstein and the entire administration on their continued commitment to student protection and right to education, and call out to the student body to support these decisions. More information about campus resources regarding DACA and immigration status is available in the News section.