“Losing DACA would mean losing the tools I have to live life. Instead of being a contributing member of society, I would return to living in limbo. With no way to progress in life, I would become unable to provide for my wife. It would make everyday life a struggle, and I would constantly have to depend on other people. The biggest thing that would be the hardest pill to swallow would be not taking care of my wife.” – Manny Bartsch, DACA recipient and Heidelberg University graduate
Today is a painful day of betrayal for the immigrant community in the U.S. and for all of us who stand as allies. This morning, the Trump administration announced that it will officially end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. DACA protects more than 800,000 undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children by allowing them to apply for renewable two-year deferments from deportation and making them eligible for work permits and driver’s licenses. DACA recipients are buying homes, graduating with advanced degrees, and building lives. Although there was still much to do to protect and give justice to the undocumented community in the U.S., DACA was at least a joyous step towards creating the future we all dreamed of. As our friend and undocumented activist Juan Escalante phrased it, DACA gave people a sense of freedom to live without fear and to succeed in their lives.
Trump’s decision to end DACA is unequivocally wrong. He places hundreds of thousands of young Americans and the people who love them in danger. This is the latest in a series of actions that have devastating consequences for the protection of immigrant rights and human rights within the United States. The blatant targeting of the immigrant community, the overt islamophobia, the refusal to denounce the actions of white supremacists, and the sustained campaign of racist and xenophobic language are a repugnant and shameful erosion of American values.
At the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, we recognize and celebrate the numerous and invaluable contributions made every day by the immigrant community in the U.S. Undocumented immigrants in particular bring powerful economic, cultural, and social benefits to our nation just as they have done for generations. These benefits are not just opinion, they are tangible. It is estimated that approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from American high schools every year. These students go on to pursue college degrees, trade school educations, or jobs in the workforce. These students are our future. They are our friends, our neighbors, our families. Like everyone, they deserve to live free with the opportunity to pursue their dreams, just as their parents fought so hard to pursue the dream of bringing their children to a country where they could thrive. They deserve to feel safe. DACA provided them with that safety, and today, this country betrayed them.
Repealing DACA opens hundreds of thousands of young people up to the very real, very dangerous possibility of being deported. Deportation is not bureaucratic, it is violent. It can be deadly. It rips people out of their communities and forces them into painful and dangerous situations. Isolated from their families, from their life, from the community they have always been part of, it often leaves people with no other viable choice than to try coming back to all that they know and love. Many who have been deported try to cross back through the desert, the only terrain available, but the most deadly. At Colibrí, we see this reality every single day. We see unimaginably tragic ends to stories of parents, children, sisters, brothers, people who died fighting for a dream. Trump is once again demonstrating that he has no regard for these human beings, for immigrants and their families. He has no care for the vulnerable and no real sense of what actually makes America great.
All of us at Colibrí are deeply angered and pained by Trump’s decision to end DACA. We are constantly in awe of the strength, tenacity, and bravery of immigrant community. We know how hard the community fought for programs like DACA and we commit ourselves to always standing and fighting alongside our allies for the true and just protection of immigrant and human rights.
Here’s what you can do to take action and fight for the DACAmented youth in your community:
- Attend a rally or vigil being organized locally. Check out your local events or see organizations like Movimiento Cosecha or United We Dream that are organizing nationwide actions.
- Call the elected officials who have been campaigning to end DACA.
- Share this statement on your social media with the hashtag #DefendDACA and make clear your support for DACAmented youth.