The end of DACA is detrimental to America

As far as James knows, he’s from Plumas County and lives the life of a cowboy. From his old truck to his ranch life, absolutely nothing about the young man says he was born and raised anywhere else than in rural northern California.

But then one day he finds out something a little different. He finds out he wasn’t born here at all — finds out he didn’t move to Plumas County until he was 4 years old. His mother — a woman with little formal education, and definitely not someone with a law background — confesses to him when he goes to get a Social Security card to begin work. She didn’t have any idea they’d stay this long and become tethered to the land so far away from her home.

He’s 17 now and barely remembers anything beyond age 7 and nothing in his baby photos suggests a setting other than where he is now.

James was planning on going to college and had just applied for a part-time job.

And now he’s the victim of circumstance and an arbitrary line that wasn’t always there. Suddenly James —a kid who speaks no other language than English — is being told to get ready for deportation back to his country —a country he’s never seen and doesn’t speak the language of.

This nightmare sci-fi scenario is unfortunately commonplace for many Californian students who find out that they were not born in America.

To the unsavvy, unversed in immigration law casual observer, the solution falls into a couple of categories: 1) Well why not just go to the country of origin? 2) Well why not get one’s papers in order and get to the “back of the line” and do things properly.

All easier said than done. What immigration law, Congress and armchair observers miss is the obvious — these are people with lives, with loves, with jobs, with children. These are people responding to circumstance the best they can — just like the rest of us do.

What sets DACA kids apart from other immigrants isn’t necessarily their absence of criminal record (100 percent, according to government data) or their 91 percent college graduation rate or their military service. Or even that they tend to major in harder, more demanding subjects than their American born counterparts. What separates DACA recipients from other immigrants is a 1996 anti-terrorism law that came about as a response to the first time an attempt had been made on the World Trade Center. Huh?

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 signed into law by Bill Clinton has a clause in it with a very unintentional side effect.

Effectively? An undocumented person applying for status within the United States must apply from outside the United States to get back in the country regardless of whether or not an American in their family can sponsor him or her. The wait period for application is as many months or years the person was “illegally” in the United States.

So, in other words, someone with no big ties to America who overstayed a travel visa last year and married an American can leave the country and apply to come back and be snug at home in less than a year — sometimes less than six months.

But a child brought to the United States at age 6 and is now 29 has to legally stay out of the United States 29 years if he or she wants to do things “the right way” through the proper channels.

Where’s the justice and equity in that? Like anyone in Plumas County, if you lived like James does in Plumas County for 29 years and were suddenly told you weren’t a rural American, but an urbanite from a city you’ve never seen, speaking a language you’d never spoken, you’d be devastated. You would hope others could see your plight and act humanely.

The Dream Act was and is a stop-gap measure attempting a correction at the miscarriage of law that the 1996 law proved to be. But no person in Congress is strong enough to vote down an “anti-terrorism” law. I can just see the political ads taking lawmakers to task (queue scary political music:  “He voted to get rid of anti-terrorism measures …”

If you think this doesn’t affect people in Plumas County, you’re wrong. My English as a Second Language classes were peopled heavily with DACA eligible students.

There are people milling about their armchairs shouting over the Internet about needing real immigration reform. To them I say, absolutely. Of course we need one. I would personally like to see an amnesty like the 1986 one that the Reagan Administration introduced, but with clearer paths to citizenship and execution that doesn’t break up families.

Both major political parties hide from their responsibility to both immigrants and native born Americans —the former for keeping people in endless costly limbo and the latter for spreading incorrect information.

Do you remember the political decisions you made when you were 6? Have your parents ever made desperate economic decisions?

Meanwhile, DACA recipients who entered their information into the system willingly and trustfully will be deported. Counties across the United States will lose valuable assets to their communities. And for what? To satisfy an unsubstantiated hatred and fear.

5 thoughts on “The end of DACA is detrimental to America

  • September 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm
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    A more eloquent essay, I have not seen. Thank you!

  • September 22, 2017 at 7:09 am
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    Very well written and articulated opinion. Unfortunately, a lot of your information is incorrect. You stated, “What sets DACA kids apart from other immigrants isn’t necessarily their absence of criminal record (100 percent, according to government data)” when in fact there have been 2,139 DACA recipients who have had their temporary protective status revoked due to criminal convictions. Here are a few examples:

    Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros, an illegal alien protected by DACA, was convicted in 2014 of two counts of felony hit and run after she killed two Forest Grove, Oregon, stepsisters — Anna Dieter-Eckerdt and Abigail Robinson ages 6 and 11 respectively — who were playing at the time of the incident.

    The illegal immigrant who was arrested this week in Arizona for a sex crime against a three-year old girl, was being shielded from repatriation by President Barack Obama’s 2012 ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ program, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The little girl was found Monday, while duct-taped, inside a trash bag, and covered in feces in a closet in an apartment occupied by Francisco Rios-Covarrubias. He was charged with kidnapping, sexual conduct with a minor, felony child abuse, and sex trafficking. The child’s mother was also arrested.

    Salvador Diaz-Garcia, 23, is facing second-degree assault and rape charges for an alleged brutal attack on a 19-year-old woman in Burien, Washington. According to court documents, the woman was on a treadmill at her local gym when Garcia allegedly stood behind her and asked her questions. The woman said she asked Garcia to move. Garcia allegedly attacked the woman, breaking her jaw and nose, and ripping half of her ear off.

    Hernandez-Rodas, an illegal alien protected by DACA, was charged with child sex crimes after he allegedly lured a 14-year-old girl, who ended up being a federal agent, into a hotel room for sex.

    Gus Zamudio, 18, returned to Mexico City nearly a month before he was expected to graduate from art school. Zamudio allegedly embezzled approximately $3,000 from Harris Teeter, the grocery store he was working for in February, according to police. Zamudio’s attorney pleaded down the felony charges, but the illegal immigrant remained in law enforcement custody.

    Now, my response is not intended to cast all immigrants into a negative light, but to remind you that vetting those that come into our country is of the utmost importance. We have enough home grown problems and criminals. We don’t need to import more. I understand that a lot of these kids didn’t have a choice, but what many people do not seem to understand is that once you give them permanent status here, it allows them to petition for family. Also, how is it fair to the guys and girls who have been waiting in line patiently for years? I welcome any immigrants to this country, just as long as they come here legally and contribute to this country. If you want America to be like where you came from, pack your crap and go back.

  • September 22, 2017 at 7:26 am
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    These democratic my opinion threads are getting hard to read…they are all very uninformed articles that are very one sided, like the Nazi one. I’m all for free speech, just make sure you have your facts right, even if you don’t like writing them as the author.

  • September 22, 2017 at 7:40 am
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    By the way, my family came here legally went through the process, and now are productive members of society. If the parents came here illegally, send them back. I don’t feel we should separate the kids from the parents, so send them all back and let them try again…the legal way!

    When you Rob someone (you intentionally committed the crime), you, and your accomplices all go to jail.

    When you illegally enter ( you didn’t just get lost and find a job north of the border), you and your accomplices go back to the country you came from.

    Maggie, there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. That’s why we have rules. Sorry your president didn’t listen and broke the rules, but mine is here to abide by the rules and enforce them.

  • September 22, 2017 at 7:51 am
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    Wow!! Local news staff writer just got schooled on publishing “fake news.” Curious to know what government data you referenced regarding the criminal records. You should be embarrassed Maggie Wells! I guess politics is even present in a small town newspaper. Next time try using facts like the person above did. Maybe we can get him to write our articles. At least he includes facts!!

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