Since the Trump administration announced the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which has allowed nearly 800,000 individuals brought to the United States as children to stay and obtain work permits, there have been many stories about the accomplishments of these high-achieving young people.
One such story is that of Tony Solis of Chicago, a Davidson College (NC) student profiled last month by The Washington Post.
Here is an excerpt:
Tony’s only memory of coming to the United States was of his parents waking him early, putting him in a car with his brothers and offering him orange juice. He remembers learning English by naming objects in picture books at school. But after that, his life began to resemble those of his classmates: leveraging his straight A’s to get a Nintendo DS, getting his picture in the paper when his soccer team won the city championship, asking the cute girl at his lunch table on a date to see “Divergent.” He never told his friends he was undocumented; it never came up.
DACA was enacted the year before Tony turned 16. He and his older brothers each submitted applications. Then he could get a driver’s license and travel out of the state for college visits. He wasn’t eligible for federal financial aid—but his counselor nominated him for a privately funded full-ride scholarship to Davidson, in North Carolina.
The administration terminated the program as of March 5, 2018, with President Trump saying that in the meantime he expected Congress to pass a legislative solution to protect DACA recipients, also commonly referred to as Dreamers. (All of those who have DACA status are Dreamers, but the number of total Dreamers is estimated to be about two million. Click here for more background.)
“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving the military? Really! . . . They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own—brought in by parents at young age,” Trump tweeted Sept. 14.
Indeed, the president and Democratic congressional leaders apparently have agreed to support legislation that would permanently authorize DACA in exchange for expanded border security, but the details remain in flux and there is not yet a specific deal or agreed on piece of legislation to point to, just a deal to reach a deal. (Click here to read the letter ACE and 78 other associations sent to Congress urging lawmakers to pass legislation as soon as possible.)
As Congress works toward such an agreement, perhaps as part of an end-of-the-year catch-all spending bill that lawmakers must pass in December, Higher Education Today will post periodic profiles of individual Dreamers. As the president has noted, many of these outstanding young people are pursuing an education; roughly 350,000 of them are estimated to be enrolled in or have graduated from college.
The United States is the only country they know. They are Americans in every way but immigration status, and extending permanent protections to them is the only humane way to respond to the situation these innocent young people are facing.