From fear to freedom for all

By Ashley Mott

Taking into account the state of our country for the past few years, it is hard to be surprised about the current proceedings of our government involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Still, there are a few facts that most do not understand.

DACA was created on June 15, 2012 to help undocumented immigrants live in the United States safely and without fear of being deported as long as their requests for DACA were approved and renewed on time. However, the one thing that the DACA did not cover was a path for undocumented immigrants to reach citizenship — something that many in America were against.

This thought process was one that I could not understand. Many people in the US complain about the influx of immigrants from other countries taking over jobs and not paying taxes. What they don’t realize is that without DACA, these people are less likely to be able to work because they don’t have access to a legal work permit. With the program that was previously instituted, these undocumented immigrants had become documented. They had the opportunity to get a work permit and pay taxes like a true United States citizen, even though some people who were born here don’t even do that much. Over 700,000 people were enrolled in DACA, with more applying everyday, but now, these people — no different than you and I, with exception of our places of birth — are being targeted with the threat of leaving the country they grew up in.

What many do not know is that DACA protects only those who were brought into the country as a child. A requirement of the application is providing proof that a person was under the age of 16 when they were brought into the country. I don’t believe that someone who has grown up in the United States is any less American than I am simply because of where they were born. With all the legal stipulations and guidelines, those protected under DACA adhere to our laws and paid taxes, all while keeping a clean legal record to stay under the program.

This means that these “illegal” people, as some would put it, are actually following state and government laws better than most people who were born here. You don’t see immigrants burning the flag or vandalizing symbols of our country, because unlike those of us privileged to be born here, they see America as freedom. They don’t deface our national symbols like many others do who say that they are “proud to be American.” In fact, all that the people who were protected by DACA want is a way to stay in the U.S. because they believe that we are a great country.

While Trump proposes a way for those protected under DACA to have a path to citizenship like many people want, most of the government is opposed to it because of the wall. Although it is an unpopular opinion, I see no issue with wanting to know who is coming in and out of the United States for safety reasons. Most of the terrorist attacks that happen in other countries are due to them not having enough border security. In fact, most European countries don’t have individual borders, thus opening them up to horrific actions like the Paris attacks.

You would think that our government would want to prevent those same possibilities from happening here. The other stipulations of Trump’s proposal, such as the end to the visa lottery and stricter laws on family migration, are  understandably harder to get behind because it could break up families across the nation. Turning down a proposal that would give a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people because it includes limiting families from coming over together and ending the visa program is one thing, but to not look at those at all and simply turn it down because of the wall is just plain ignorant. It begs the question of whether or not it would still be turned down if the wall wasn’t a part of the proposal, but the other stipulations were still included.

The people affected by these decisions just want a way for them to become legal citizens and become the same as you and I. I have to wonder why we prevent people, who just want the freedom to live the “American Dream” that Trump preaches so loudly from behind his podium, from accessing the means to become a citizen.

With the deadline for DACA’s end slowly approaching, there is no time to be finicky with personal feelings. The government is supposed to be taking into account all people residing within the United States, and so far, all I can see is adults acting like children instead of negotiating like the elected government officials that they are supposed to be.

Undocumented immigrants need a way to become citizens because, for many, America is all they have ever known, and they want the right to legally call it their home. As for protecting our own current citizens, we need better access to knowing who is coming in and out of the nation.

At the end of the day, our government has a lot to debate because not only are they holding the lives of United States citizens in their hands, but they are also in charge of an additional 1.8 million undocumented immigrants’ lives. There needs to be a call for the United States to act on these issues in a civil manner, not have people yelling in the streets or government officials acting like children and saying no without considering all the possibilities.

We need genuine, intelligent people in office who will consider the good of the nation and collaborate with each other instead of only pushing their own agendas. America is about freedom, and with a wall, citizens can rest easy knowing that their freedoms are being protected in a way that isn’t war. With a path to citizenship, immigrants can see the light at the end of the tunnel, from fear to freedom for all.


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