On Tuesday, Sept. 5 President Donald Trump released that he’s putting an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA by March 2018 if Congress does not come up with a new immigration plan.
The Obama-era policy was established five years ago as a way to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. It’s for people who arrived to America before 2007 under the age of 16 with no criminal background and it permitted them to legally live and work in the U.S. for renewable two-year spans.
The effects of this issue are hitting close to home here at St. Cloud State University, with a minority of the students currently a part of the repealed DACA program. Associate Vice President of the Center for International Studies and Multicultural Student Services Shahzad Ahmad said that the university will stand behind those students every step of the way in their support for a better education.
“We will be here to support them in whatever way we can while they meet the legal obligations as the new rules come into place,” Ahmed said.
SCSU is among many other universities that would like to help their international students as much as possible from being deported from the United States, which has arguably brought them a better life.
“Our president has made a statement out where all university presidents throughout the country who are focused on the success of students no matter what background to support them to be successful,” he said.
With the removal of this policy, many undocumented immigrants who are in the United States to get an education or to work are worried and don’t know what they will do if the time comes for them to go.
“There’s a lot of fear, 800,000 people could lose their jobs, driver’s licenses and [possibly be] deported in six months, there’s tons of sadness,” Vice President of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles Patty Keeling said.
Since the news first broke out about DACA coming to a potential end in March,
Asamblea de Derechos Civiles has been working hard by protesting the decision, and by voicing their opinion to the congressional offices.
“On the 18 of September, our organization is taking two buses, one from St. Cloud, and one from Minneapolis to hit all of our congressional offices in the state,” Keeling said.
Keeling intends for the group to unite at Congressman Tom Emmer’s office to find out where he stands on the controversial issue, give testimony and try to reach out for his support.
The group feels if they are able to get as many congress people behind them as possible on the issue, it will help their voices get stronger with relevant support.
Currently, there are nearly 800,000 people using DACA, which makes up for approximately 0.4 percent of the total work force in the United States. According to CNBC.com
President Trump plans to give Congress six months to come up with a new immigration policy until the government permanently puts an end to permit renewals.
Although the plan is for Congress to come up with a new plan to replace DACA, Keeling is confident there are Democrats along with some Republicans who are in favor of keeping DACA and she said she feels her group has a “good shot.”
However, Keeling does not see eye-to-eye with President Trump on the issue.
“I think people are aware of this more now, and now we’re going to try and do anything to stop the president from [going through with ending DACA],” she said.
Having support for these students and their families is a step many universities are making to give their students a chance. Asamblea de Derechos Civiles has created a rapid response cell phone application for DACA reliant individuals in St. Cloud to help prevent people from being deported.
“If somebody is stopped [driving] and they have that app, they can alert us and we’ll come as quickly as we can. We would surround the car to hold it up as long as possible,” Keeling said.
Eventually, the group would like to travel to Washington D.C. to voice themselves, but
for now, Keeling would like to see as many supporters as possible join them on Monday, Sept. 18 for their big day in Minnesota.
“I encourage people to join the bus,” she said. “It’s going to be a long day, but it’s going to be a very meaningful day. You’re going to help a lot of people because we’re going to make a big difference in speaking up.”
If you would like to donate or contact the Asamblea de Derechos Civiles group, visit their website at https://asamblea-mn.org/ .