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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    DACA could do more

    In June, President Barack Obama promised more unilateral action “to fix as much of our immigration system as [he could] on [his] own, without Congress.” His last immigration-related executive order, issued in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, granted DREAMers — or individuals who meet the requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — a temporary two-year relief from deportation and work permission, and some believe his next step will be to expand DACA to include more of the undocumented population, such as parents of DACA recipients.

    It’s all well and good that Obama can hand out executive orders, but it’s not enough. The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services’ website clarifies, “deferred action does not provide lawful status.” The website further explains that the government simply chooses not to prosecute those who qualify. To normalize deferred action as a solution in lieu of actual immigration reform creates a group stuck in status-purgatory with limited access to necessary resources.

    That’s not to say that expanding deferred action would be bad. According to Brookings, DACA alone benefits hundreds of thousands of people. Legal work permission and safety from deportation mean that they can come out from the shadows and live without fear. This is essential, especially in Arizona where police are mandated by state legislation — Senate Bill 1070 — to call border patrol if they believe someone to be without legal immigration status.

    Expanding deferred action to include more of the undocumented population would mean more people would not have to worry about being detained and separated from their families as a result of a traffic stop. Still, we cannot ignore that deferred action is like a Band-Aid for a broken U.S. immigration system.

    Deferred action is not sustainable. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DACA requires qualified individuals to renew their deferred action every two years, and the application fee is more than $450. Members of Scholarships A-Z, an organization that advocates for equal access to education “regardless of immigration status,” explain that it can be very expensive for low-income families or families who have multiple children to apply.

    If DACA were simply expanded to include parents, it would be even more expensive for families, and such an expensive financial investment does not offer any long-term reward. Larger families could spend thousands of dollars applying only to have their deferred action status discontinued by Obama’s successor.
    Deferred action is also inconsistent. DACA recipients can work, but, in Arizona, they cannot drive.

    Governor Jan Brewer issued her own executive order banning licenses for DACA recipients. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ban on constitutional grounds, but Brewer continues to fight it. In the meantime, Arizona DACA recipients still can’t drive, while their neighbors to the east and west in New Mexico and California are allowed driver’s licenses.

    Access to education for DACA students also varies. In Arizona, Proposition 300 bans those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, including DACA students, from receiving in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid, while in California and New Mexico, they are eligible for both.

    Thanks to Scholarships A-Z, DACA students can pay in-state tuition at Pima Community College. Nevertheless, DACA students who have lived in Arizona for more than ten years cannot afford to attend the UA because they are treated as out-of-state students by an inconsistent and unfair system.

    Deferred action is too minimal to be a solution. It creates a group of people with limited access to resources resulting in constrained upward social-mobility. Obama should not have to even consider it. We should push our representatives to pass holistic, compassionate immigration reform instead.

    —Alex Devoid is a Latin American Studies graduate. Follow him @DevoidAlex

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