On September 10, I attended a rally in Springfield in support of the beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The day before, I made three signs for the rally that read: "Defend DACA," "Dreamers, not Criminals," and "Dreamers are Here to Stay."
When I was making the signs, a little twelve year old I know told me: “You need to make one that reads ‘Dreamers are Believers.’” I didn’t have time to make another sign but I felt bad about missing out on spreading such an important message.
On September 5th, President Trump put an end to DACA in six months, absent congressional action. This program, dating from 2012, allowed undocumented youth who came to the United States as children, and met certain criteria, including passing extensive background checks, to get temporary relief from deportation.
What can you do to help? Stay informed, spread the word, contact your representative, and/or contribute to a scholarship fund.
Why do we call them DREAMers?
The first version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced in Congress in 2001 by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). This bill, if passed, would have allowed undocumented youth to apply for permanent residency after meeting certain requirements and provided aid for their college education.
The potential beneficiaries of this bill, and the many versions that followed, came to be known as “DREAMers.” Maybe, by becoming residents and eventually citizens these individuals could believe the American Dream was a possibility for them.
What has changed after Trump’s announcement?
Under the recent announcement, DACA beneficiaries whose benefits expire between September 5th and March 5th need to renew their status before October 5th. This deadline is so soon it’s going to be difficult for potential applicants to even find out about it. Illinois has the third largest number of approved DACA applications in any state, according to estimates by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
If your DACA expires by March 5th 2018, please call (309) 829-8703 ext 104 and get started with your renewal! This is the number for Immigration Project, an organization in Bloomington that is offering this service for free. Talk to people you know, post this information on social media, help spread the word.
Call your Representative. For those beneficiaries of DACA whose benefits expire after March 5th, there’s no hope yet. Now it’s up to Congress to decide on the future and dreams of these young people, most of whom don’t even remember their country of origin. If you believe they deserve a chance, urge your representative to support the 2017 version of the Dream Act.
How much are the renewal fees?
The DACA renewal fees are pretty extraordinary: $495 per person. That’s a lot of money to come up with in just two weeks. If you can help a young immigrant, send a check for any amount to the Macomb Feminist Network, PO Box 765, Macomb, IL 61455. Please, make the check out to MFN (for DACA). They will pool the funds and provide money orders specifically to cover this fee for as many local students as possible. If you need support to file your DACA, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please, help these young immigrants believe in the American Dream again!
To learn more, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Central-Illinois-DACA-Resources-272015686629626/
Julia Albarracin is a Professor of Political Science at Western Illinois University.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University or Tri States Public Radio. Diverse viewpoints are welcome and encouraged.