Imagine living in the United States your entire life — from your earliest memories, you’ve been here. And in 2014, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protected your status, keeping you safe from the ever-looming threat of deportation.
But as of Tuesday, because your parents immigrated illegally shortly after you were born, you could be facing deportation.
In Pennsylvania alone, nearly 6,000 young adults were given protection under the Obama-era executive action. DACA protected people who arrived in the United States under the age of 16 before 2007, enabling recipients to obtain driver’s licenses, enroll in college and pay income tax, among other things.
But now the White House is telling DACA’s nearly 800,000 recipients to prepare to leave the country they call home.
These 800,000 people aren’t just legal residents on work visas. These are everyday Americans — people who’ve grown up in the United States since before they can remember, and who share the values of natural-born citizens. Most DACA recipients are law-abiding citizens, and are actively seeking educations and better opportunities — the embodiment of the American Dream.
The overturn of DACA opens the door to the possibility of an evil, ruthless persecution of immigrants. In order to qualify for DACA protections, applicants needed to provide the government with an abundance of information including their names, heights, street addresses, school addresses, phone numbers and more.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services vowed to protect this information, but since DACA was signed as an executive order rather than a law, the current administration could do whatever it wants with the data.
This unprecedented danger posed to young adults who have known nothing but America for a majority of their lives is unacceptable. In President Barack Obama’s words, “it is cruel.”
But in our city, our state and our school, people are standing up — and we hope their voices are heard.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto vowed to do whatever he can to protect DACA recipients living in Pennsylvania, and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher took to Twitter to state his solidarity with DACA students at Pitt, joining “the rising tide of voices who are calling on Congress to make this right.”
In support of DACA, Gallagher was among more than 250 college presidents to sign a statement in November urging Trump to save the program.
President Donald Trump may have placed the fate of hundreds of thousands of lives in the hands of a divided Congress that’s repeatedly failed to pass laws, but the people — for once — are decided and united. Over 76 percent of Americans say they think DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the country.
It may seem as if our country is not unified on much. At the very least, we cannot allow our president to divide us further over something as inhumane as ending DACA.