Published by The Montclarion (themontclarion.org)
by Georgia I. Salvaryn
Living the American dream is one of the many reasons why immigrants come to live in this country. They strive to build a better life and create a brighter future for their family. But why take that opportunity away from them?
Everyone has a right to the opportunity to come to America and live their American dream. Of course, becoming a citizen is a must. However, if they live in the United States and are not old enough to become a citizen yet, they should be allowed the chance to build a life here and become an American citizen when they are eligible for citizenship. Many critics of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are concerned that those who are a part of it somehow get special treatment and receive certain benefits from the program that documented citizens do not receive, but they are mistaken.
Many immigrants who come to this country also bring their families with them, including young children. When these families go to apply for American citizenship, their children who are under the age of 18 cannot apply for citizenship.
This is why DACA was created.
According to undocu.berkeley.edu, “DACA is a kind of administrative relief from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children, from deportation.”
This program gives its beneficiaries the same opportunities as every American citizen does: attend school, get a college degree, serve in the military, etc. without fear of being deported.
Dr. Karen L. Pennington, Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life, says that the benefits DACA students receive are the same as any other student. There is the New Jersey Dream Act, which allows students who have gone through the New Jersey school systems to receive in-state tuition, but students who are documented or are citizens get that benefit anyway. There are no extra perks.
Americans need to understand that this country was built on immigration. Many of our ancestors were immigrants hundreds of years ago in this country. Dr. Pennington claims that the issue is that people forget that the original settlers were immigrants themselves. They took the land from Native Americans, kept it as their own and refused anyone else entry. She says that the same is happening now. Dr. Pennington is right. We forget our history and in doing so, stunt our growth as a society and as people.
In those terms, DACA is truer to our history and our values than critics want to believe. By protecting our immigrant population, we ensure that our future as a nation evolves into an inclusive future and a nation that respects the rights of the people on our soil and grows to honor what the original settlers believed and hoped this nation would be.