DACA and reform

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DACA and reform

Almost four months after the federal government implemented the process for temporary legalization of undocumented youths through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), four of every five youths that could be eligible for this benefit have not applied for it. The reasons are many: some point to the hardship of the cost (just the application costs almost $500 and some families have several applicants), while others are afraid of what might happen after the temporary period expires or when they provide information to the authorities. There is also lack of information or ignorance about the program, and even fear that other members of the family who are undocumented might be impacted. However, even those youths who have applied for and obtained the benefit, which grants legal residence for two years and a work permit, feel that it is an incomplete measure. Some beneficiaries openly express a feeling of guilt because their parents and other relatives do not have similar benefits. The unease of these families is not completely relieved even when the youths get the approval or work permit—for the majority, the first time that they feel completely that they legally belong in this country. However, the benefits won’t be the same around the country, since some states will issue the youths driver’s licenses while others—like Arizona—refuse to do so.

Last weekend, a group of the so-called Dreamers, those undocumented youths who have organized and formed a movement known around the country, gathered together. They came from various parts of the country to discuss their strategy moving forward. The consensus of the majority is that they won’t be limited to advocating for permanent status for themselves, but will back comprehensive reform that also covers their relatives.

This just confirms the urgent need for a serious, wide-ranging solution to the immigration situation of millions of people—entire families, most of whom, according to estimates, have been in this country for more than 10 years. That solution must be as broad as possible, consonant with the principles of our country—which include family—and the needs of this society.

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