A DACA Pep Talk
The past few months have been both exciting and terrifying for undocumented youth. Exciting for the opportunity to apply for an employment authorization document and contribute to this country. Terrifying to not know what is going to happen after the November 6 election. However, yesterday was another sobering reminder that while we have made some good strides, we have a long way to go. It was a reminder that while we can rejoice over the Deferred Action policy we must continue to push our elected officials beyond just a DREAM Act. We need a DREAM Act Plus, also known as Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
So, what happened yesterday? One of the most prominent faces in the current immigrant rights movement, Jose Antonio Vargas, was arrested and charged with driving without a valid driver’s license. No, this did not happen in Arizona. It happened in Minneapolis-St. Paul which continues to operate in Secure Communities.
According to the MinnPost, Jose was released approximately 2 ½ hours later. But, what if the person wasn’t a Pulitzer prize winning journalist? What if Jose was not released and an ICE hold was placed on him? Jose is 31 years old and because of his age he does not qualify for the current program called Deferred Action (DACA). He is a low priority according to the ICE guidelines, but you never know what can happen when an ICE officer has all the discretionary power.
The election is a perfect time to hold all political figures accountable for their past and future decisions.
Since Jim Lehrer neglected to address immigration as a domestic policy in the first debate, I suppose we’ll hear about it in one of the upcoming debates. Both presidential candidates should provide their plans for reform and define their differences and similarities.
We need to know whether Governor Mitt Romney will deport a person like Jose? If elected president, will he deport Jose’s parents? Will he deport someone who is not as decorated as Jose? Will he continue to support state-based immigration laws like SB-1070? Will he continue to flip back-and-forth on immigration or show some backbone and stick with a position? These questions should be directly asked of him and he should give us straight answers.
We need to know what are President Obama’s exact plans for passing comprehensive immigration reform. Does he really believe that he can get reform passed if re-elected? Does he truly believe that congress will work with him and why? Why is ICE still detaining low priority individuals and deporting them when there is a policy that they are not supposed to be doing this? We need a plan, not lip service.
Moral of the story: this is not a time to let your guard down. If you have applied for DACA and you already have your biometrics appointment or your work permit this is a time to celebrate, but don’t forget the others who are currently left out in the cold. If you have not been involved with local advocacy, get involved. If you are involved, keep it up! Hold your local elected officials and candidates accountable. Volunteer for candidates that support immigrant-friendly policies. Share your stories. Blog. Write Op-eds. Make sure that like-minded U.S. citizens register to vote. Get your brothers, sisters, parents and friends involved in the movement.
Advocates that have pushed for DACA should be proud of the results of their hard work. But, we must continue to push for a broader reform that can benefit the entire undocumented community and make for a more rational path to this country for future flows of immigrants.