When Dreams Get Deferred


Kelli Perkins, Contributing Writer

When Mariana DaSilva is not occupied with working 40 hours per week and taking classes at Valencia part-time, she enjoys playing soccer with her little sister and going to New Smyrna Beach. DaSilva and her family immigrated to Orlando, Florida when she was 4 years old. Fast forward 16 years, and she is now a Dreamer majoring in Event Management at Valencia College. DaSilva is one of approximately 320,000 Dreamers affected by the rescission of the program known as DACA.

Before establishing their lives in the United States, DaSilva and her family lived in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. “My father’s company that he worked for was going out of business, so he made the decision to move us here with $7,000 in his bank account and my mom followed him,” DaSilva said. While the thought of deportation is something DaSilva now often worries about, she is not as concerned about her parents or younger siblings being subject to the same nightmare. DaSilva explained, “My family wouldn’t get deported because they have never committed any crime. Both my sister and brother are American citizens because they were born here.”

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy the Obama administration established in June 2012. Per the American Immigration Council, “DACA is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, providing temporary relief from deportation (deferred action) and work authorization to certain young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.”

On Sept. 5, 2017, Elaine Duke, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, announced the rescission of DACA. Following the announcement, President Donald Trump gave Congress a six-month window to come up with a revised version of the executive order. Congress’s decision could affect hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

Within 48 hours of the announcement that DACA was ending, Valencia College President, Sandy Shugart, shed light on the school’s inclusive community in which he put out a statement that said, “I understand that undocumented students may be worried about their status here at Valencia College. Let me reassure each of you that you are a Valencia student, and your standing with us has not and will not change as the result of this decision. Valencia welcomes all students regardless of their immigration status and will continue to do so.”

Although the termination of a program as accommodating as this has taken place, DaSilva offered advice to her fellow Dreamers by stressing how important it is to prepare for whatever may come next. DaSilva stated, “I would advise Dreamers not to worry so much that we will all get deported, but that they should plan ahead their next six months accordingly, save as much money as possible while working at the jobs we are allowed to.”

As Congress works around the clock to get a concrete bill into place, Republican Senators, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and James Lankford of Oklahoma launched a new bill called the SUCCEED Act. On Sept. 25, 2017, the two Republican senators reported to ABC News correspondents, “Participants would have to pass a criminal background check and have a high school diploma or equivalent. They would also have to have been in the U.S. since June 15, 2012, and entered before the age of 16. To qualify, applicants would need to submit biometric and biographical data to the Department of Homeland Security.” Another provision in the bill holds that “Under the proposal, Dreamers would have “conditional permanent residence” for 10 years before becoming eligible to apply for a green card, and that status could be renewed after five years. Dreamers would only be able to apply for citizenship after holding a green card for five years.” Republican Sen. James Lankford also spoke on President Trump’s approval of the new bill to which he claimed President Trump said, “That’s the right way to do it.”

If Congress does not act within the given period, the U.S. could begin to see Dreamers like DaSilva, who know no other home but the U.S., unable to work and subject to deportation. The Department of Homeland Security stated, “From January through August 2019, 321,920 individuals are set to have their DACA/EADs (Employment Authorization Document’s) expire.”

Due to the significant number of Dreamers whose EADs expire after Oct. 5, 2017, the economy could begin to suffer some fiscal consequences. The Center for American Progress weighed in on this matter. “The data also show that 16 percent of respondents purchased their first home after receiving DACA. Among respondents 25 years and older, this percentage rises to 24 percent. The broader positive economic effects of home purchases include the creation of jobs and the infusion of new spending in local economies.” This fact alone puts companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple on edge because of the immense amount of effort put in by Dreamers in the workplace, and the great contribution they serve to the economy.

Valencia professor, Doreen Watson, also expressed her concerns relative to the negative implications this could pose to the nation’s economy. Watson professed, “The way that I look at it is that they are all necessary for the survival of this nation. We have almost a million people that we know about, who are facing deportation at any given point. How can it not have a great economic and social impact on our society? Many of our Dreamers are educated, skilled, and contributing greatly to the overall success of the U.S. Contrary to the political rhetoric, they have lower incarceration rates than native-born citizens.”

Yet, for some, the debate is not over whether Dreamers are essential to the flourishing of the economy or to the diversity of the U.S., rather the issue arises when it comes to questions about the legality of the program, as some consider it “unconstitutional.” Valencia student, Zane Cochran, voiced his opinion on whether Congress should act from a humanitarian or legal standpoint when addressing bills such as DACA, “They should act from both, at the end of the day, Obama’s executive order was a constitutional overreach; a lot of Republicans are pissed about that. However, I believe Congress should legislate DACA into law. Why deport hardworking taxpayers who aren’t criminals? That doesn’t make any sense morally. The other people who use our resources and don’t contribute to society or commit crimes should be deported.”

While the country awaits Congress’s deal-breaking decision, there are actions the people of the U.S. can take to ensure that DACA doesn’t go anywhere. Individuals can contact their member of Congress by going to https://whoismyrepresentative.com/ and typing in either their zip code or selecting their state of residency. Another way to have an impact is for people to be vocal in their community and on social media. Individuals should use the tools provided by social media and tag their representative in their state, county, or in Washington D.C., to voice their opposition on matters important to them.

As for DaSilva, she feels as if there is not mutual reciprocity between the U.S. government and Dreamers, “We are still giving our lives to be a part of a community that doesn’t want to fight for us because they don’t have the knowledge of who DACA Dreamers are. I guarantee you that if the government were to educate the people on who everyday Dreamers were and acted on it, we would be in everyone’s favor to get something passed.”