By Elket Rodríguez
Imagine your parents decided to immigrate to another country when you were a kid. They immigrated to protect you. It was a choice made out of love. The circumstances in your country of origin were so desperate your parents decided it wasn’t unreasonable to risk the travel to come to the United States. They didn’t inquire of your willingness to relocate. You were just brought to the United States.
Eventually, your parents relocated. You started attending school in the United States. You learned English. You made a lot of friends. You grew up with them. You learned the Pledge of Allegiance. You grew up in a community with shared values and customs that you adopted. You never returned to your country of origin.
Now, you are an adult. You don’t remember how things are in your country of origin. You may have a grandmother or an uncle there, but you weren’t raised there. You feel no significant ties with your past. You are an American by all measures.
You applied to be protected from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). You are studying and working hard. Yet there is no pathway to citizenship for you, and now the U.S. Supreme Court holds your fate in their hands. You are living in total uncertainty.
I read the story of Argeo Cruz, a high school runner who cannot participate in the U.S. marathon Olympic trials because he is a DACA recipient and not a U.S. citizen. He entered the United States when he was 11 and has lived here ever since. Cruz’s story made me consider how unfair, improvised and inadequate policies can only result in unfair, imbalanced and inconsistent results. It also helped me ponder that even bad policy is better than no policy at all.
Cruz’s story should make us reflect on our broken immigration system.
The immigration community is expecting the Supreme Court to issue decision on DACA between April and June. This decision could change Cruz’s life and the lives of other 660,000 young men and women who could be subject to deportation overnight. In September 2017, the current administration announced it was terminating the DACA program, which protected these young men and women from deportation while they study and work.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to accept DACA applications from individuals who currently have or previously had DACA, pending the Supreme Court’s decision on the ultimate fate of the program. DACA is an administrative relief from deportation that protects young immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16 years old, are not convicted felons, are studying and have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007. This program was established in 2012 and has worked to enable young men like Cruz to contribute to our society and even join our military.
Some bills have also been introduced in Congress to provide a permanent solution to DACA recipients. The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) passed the House of Representatives June 4, 2019, and is pending Senate consideration, and the Dream Act of 2019 (S. 874) was introduced on March 26, 2019, in the Senate.
What can you do?
- Ask God to fill all the Supreme Court justices with the wisdom needed to arrive to a fair decision that protects the dignity of DACA recipients.
- Ask your senators and representatives—by letter or, better yet, in person—to support a solution for DACA recipients as soon as possible.
- To hear the story of DACA recipients—also known as DREAMers—click here and here.
- For CBF DACA resources, click here.
Elket Rodríguez, an attorney and minister, is CBF’s immigrant and refugee specialist. He lives on the U.S.-Mexico border, in Harlingen, Texas, and works with CBF Advocacy, CBF Global Missions and Fellowship Southwest.