Over the weekend, immigrant rights activists celebrated the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program has been hailed as one of the biggest victories for the immigrant rights movement, and a show of power from undocumented youth.
The program allows certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to request “deferred action” for two years, a status which can be renewed. Deferred action means that the individual cannot be deported during those two years, and is eligible for work authorization afterwards.
But deferred action is not a path toward citizenship, and the program is still under attack from Republican legislators.
Youth leaders with United We Dream (UWD) and many DACA recipients visited Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) office to question his sponsoring an amendment to defund DACA, which passed the House of Representatives last week. In response, Rep. King sent an offensive tweet about “illegal aliens” invading his office.
“We came to remind Rep. King that we are here to contribute; DREAMers are the future lawyers, teachers, engineers, and nurses of our country and yet he wants to deport us? We peacefully visited his office, dressed in our caps and gowns, and yet were forced to leave by police for merely sharing our stories with his staff,” said Texas DREAMer Julieta Garibay, UWD’s Legislative Affairs Associate, according to a press release. “Now the question is whether the House Republican leadership is willing to let Steve King dictate their immigration policy or if they’ll do the right thing and deliver immigration reform that keeps families together and creates a real roadmap to citizenship.”
Since President Obama announced the arrival of the DACA policy on June 15, 2012, nearly 500,000 DREAMers have applied, according to United We Dream. But challenges still remain in the the program’s implementation to make sure every DREAMer who is eligible can and will apply.
UWD has pledged to continue educating DREAMers and pushing for immigration reform for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.