Opinion: Iowa must defend DACA recipients

With DACA under threat by the Trump administration, Iowans must organize to protect undocumented immigrants.

Supporters+hold+signs+at+the+Old+Capitol+Building+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+7%2C+2017.+The+recent+decision+regarding+DACA%27s+rescission+has+been+a+highly+controversial+issue+in+national+politics.
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Opinion: Iowa must defend DACA recipients

Supporters hold signs at the Old Capitol Building on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. The recent decision regarding DACA's rescission has been a highly controversial issue in national politics.

Supporters hold signs at the Old Capitol Building on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. The recent decision regarding DACA's rescission has been a highly controversial issue in national politics.

James Year

Supporters hold signs at the Old Capitol Building on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. The recent decision regarding DACA's rescission has been a highly controversial issue in national politics.

James Year

James Year

Supporters hold signs at the Old Capitol Building on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. The recent decision regarding DACA's rescission has been a highly controversial issue in national politics.

Becca Bright, Columnist

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Since August, President Trump and those in support of his administration have moved aggressively towards a termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The U.S. Supreme Cour is hearing the final arguments for the ending of DACA, and with the majority of the justices leaning conservative, it is becoming more likely that this immigration program will be lost.

The elimination of DACA is an enormous danger to the Latinx and undocumented communities. It is also an urgent cry to action for those who support DACA, especially those with a legal status. Iowans must do whatever they can to defend DACA recipients.

A policy inspired by the DREAM Act in the early 2000s, DACA was established by President Obama in 2012. It was designed to grant temporary security for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before age 16. An accepted DACA application promises two years of deferred action by the U.S. government.

Meaning, DACA recipients cannot be deported regardless of their legal status. This period of deferred action then allows recipients to gain opportunities to become eligible for a work permit.

I have always found DACA to be common-sense legislation. These are young generations that have been raised here and seek what the United States has: employment, education, and freedom. I have all of these — so, too, should my peers, as these generations of DACA recipients are my peers.

Immigration is the core of U.S. genealogy and history, so our modern systems of immigration should be coherent, organized, and humane. But these systems do not work. If they did, families and their children would undergo legal processes and not have to fear the federal government.

These are young generations that have been raised here and seek what the United States has: employment, education, and freedom. I have all of these — so, too, should my peers, as these generations of DACA recipients are my peers.”

Their fear is very real, especially under the Trump administration. The past three years have been an aggressive series of “zero-tolerance” policies, family separation, concentration camps, and violent deportations.

DACA has protected the younger generations, many of whom have lived most of their lives in the U.S. Yet, this is now under threat. About 700,000 people are now at risk of having their DACA statuses revoked.

This risk is being recognized by political campaigns across the country that support DACA, including Indivisible Iowa. 

I had the opportunity to speak with group member Angela Weiland, a community organizer and former field organizer for Cathy Glasson’s campaign for the Iowa Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

“It’s just a different way to induce fear,” Weiland said about DACA’s possible termination.

We talked about her political and personal experience in seeing DACA alive in the Iowa community.

“The Iowa Democratic Party employs a DACA organizer,” she said. “He works with volunteers [and] staff to train for the Iowa caucuses for 20 counties. Yet he cannot participate in [the] voting process.”

Through Weiland’s work as a public-health dental hygienist, she saw that many young, undocumented students are a part of Iowa’s public schools.

“DREAMers have been educated in the American system. They are as American as my own children who went to school with them,” Weiland said.

The U.S. cannot justify the importance of legality if the law is without ethics and recognition of morality.”

It is the responsibility of Iowans, within education systems and work environments alike, to protect and defend their peers who rely on DACA.

The U.S. cannot justify the importance of legality if the law is without ethics and recognition of morality. In how the country has treated undocumented immigrants, it has lost almost all moral authority in the law.

By even debating DACA, it shows that we undervalue and dismiss the contributions and sacrifices DACA recipients make. All undocumented persons deserve security and protection, not just those who make remarkable academic or social achievements. Achievement is dependent on resources, and DACA is a legal resource that must remain and improve.

To fight for DACA, Iowans must be ready to politically organize — especially those of us who are white and privileged. I encourage Iowans to emulate Weiland and recognize their community and involve themselves.

If the Supreme Court removes this policy, our peers risk the injustice of being removed themselves. This move by Trump is not one of national security, but one of cruelty — and cruelty should not be any American Dream.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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