Young adults waiting to hear whether lawmakers will grant them the opportunity to stay in the U.S. legally said they don’t want Congress to offer an immigration deal that will help them but in turn produce fear and mass deportations among their parents and neighbors who are in the country illegally.
“What good is it for me to have a pathway to citizenship if I can’t have my parents, my friends, my loved ones…not with me? For us, family is the core of everything. I can’t imagine being in the U.S. without them,” said Laura Peniche, of Colorado, who benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA, which in 2012 began offering temporary reprieve from deportation and some legal documentation to youth brought to the country illegally as children, as long as they met certain criteria.
Some 800,000 benefitted from the program created by executive order by then – U.S. President Barack Obama, a policy rescinded in September by President Donald Trump, who then asked lawmakers to find a permanent solution before the program ends on March 5.
Peniche and other DACA recipients spoke of their fears, of frustration with lawmakers, of their peers’ trauma and depression, and the uncertainty of what they’ll do if Congress fails to pass any legislation to offer them relief when the program expires. But their biggest worry is over what lawmakers will come up with, who will be sacrificed, they say, as Republicans and Democrats bargain.
Some DACA recipients expressed concerns that they were being used as pawns and, in effect, are being asked to choose between citizenship and being responsible for heavy militarization of the border, as well as the safety of their parents, extended family and neighbors who will be at greater risk of being removed from the country if more immigration agents are deployed.
Carlos Corral, a DACA recipient from New Mexico, said that abundant immigration checkpoints in his region make him worry that the most average of errands could separate him from his mother who is not in the country legally.
“I’m in constant fear that Mom will one day decide to go shopping to the grocery store and run into one of those checkpoints and that’ll be it. I’ll lose her, just like that,” Corral said, “It does happen and its’s our reality…that’s not a way of life. I feel like we’re in a cage.”
The building of a bigger wall along the border with Mexico and the further militarization of the border will affect the way family, friends and communities live, he said. For the young adults to be used as bargaining chips in a deal that would make the lives of others even more difficult is abhorrent, he said.
“We shouldn’t be pushed to choose freedom over family because it’s immoral. Nothing is more valuable than our family,” Corral said. ~ Catholic News Service