By Kimberely Blackburn
Delta Digital News Service
JONESBORO – President Donald Trump announced his decision to discontinue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a decision placing those brought to the United States as children by undocumented immigrant parents, often known as “dreamers,” at risk for deportation.
Trump’s decision comes after lawmakers from 10 states demanded he take action against the program, which they called “unlawful and unconstitutional.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter penned by himself and other officials, including Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, giving the Trump administration until Sept. 5 to make a decision on DACA. After this date, the group would proceed to federal court.
In a prepared statement, Rutledge said, “While we are a compassionate country, the United States is a country of laws, and President Trump recognized that President Obama’s DACA program went far beyond the executive branch’s legal authority. Congress has always been the proper place for this debate, and I am pleased that the President is granting Congress an additional six months to legislatively address this issue.”
One dreamer, Bryan Hernandez, said his parents decided to leave Mexico City after someone robbed his father at gunpoint. After coming to the United States at the age of 6, Hernandez said he does not remember much of his birth country.
Hernandez said his parents brought him and his sister to the United States for a better education and more work opportunities. He said his parents work as a roofer and a maid, having previously worked for low wages as migrant workers.
Edica Tamez, a friend of Hernandez, said she remembers when Hernandez’s 4-year-old brother worked as a migrant worker alongside his family. Tamez said the child knew his family needed money and wanted to help.
Tamez said she often saw a similar work ethic in the Hernandez family, remembering Hernandez’s now 16-year-old sister reacting to being approved for DACA, after being denied twice.
“She was so relieved she could finally work. She could finally help her family and go to school,” Tamez said.
Brought from Monterrey, Mexico, 18 years ago, now 19-year-old Daniela Canizales said she remembers nothing of her birth country. Canizales said she fears how the end of DACA affects her educational opportunities. While currently not in school, she said she wants to study social work.
Canizales said her parents brought her and her older brother to the United States for a better education. She says DACA also provided opportunities for her brother and sister-in-law to provide for their 6-year-old daughter.
The Young Democrats of Arkansas State University staged a protest on the A-State campus. Those in attendance included Kayleigh Schalk of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Schalk said she attended the protest because of her belief that it is unfair for children to be sent away from their home.
Schalk said she attended class with dreamers in a small Missouri university, finding them to be kind and hardworking. One, Schalk said, worked odd jobs and swept up the trash after all the events and ball games.
Special Sanders, outreach director of Arkansas Coalition for DREAM, said Arkansas requires dreamers to pay out-of-state tuition. This is often close to double what Arkansas residents pay. Sanders said when DACA ends, dreamers will most likely not be able to keep their identification or their jobs.
Sanders said she does not think Congress will pass legislation to help dreamers. She said if something does not change, she will return to the streets in protest.
Dylan Herekamp, also in attendance for the protest, said he did not know any dreamers personally. However, he said, that did not matter to him. Herekamp said his goal will always be to stand up and support dreamers, and he encourages everyone to write or fax their lawmakers and make their voices heard.
A Deal in Progress
Late Wednesday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement after meeting with Trump which said “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”
Sarah Sanders, press secretary for the Trump Administration issued a Tweet which said, “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.”
Thursday morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan issued a statement which said, while the President discussed DACA with Democratic leaders, they formed no final plan as of yet.
Also on Thursday, in the midst of confusion, Trump issued a tweet which said, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”
Officially, no deal is in place. Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia issued a statement which said the House and Senate must approve any deal made.
In response to DACA critics, Canizales said she wishes everyone would become fully informed on the issue. Canizales said everyone should do research and learn of the issue before making snap judgments.
Hernandez said the future of his family remains uncertain and his education remains a concern.
“(This decision) takes away the opportunity, the change for an education that we always wished for,” Hernandez said.
© 2017, Kim Blackburn. All rights reserved.