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Journey Saez

University Seminar 102

Dr. Phyllis Collins

April 27th, 2018

My Thoughts on the Immigration Policy DACA and Debate

I blinked back tears as I read the report that was written four years ago concerning five

children who were killed when they were deported back to Honduras after seeking safety in

America (Lee, 2014). I quickly did the math in my head, calculating how old I was when this

was groundbreaking news. I was fourteen. At fourteen, I was aspiring to be the next MaryMary

or Cece Winans. At fourteen, I was trying to make friends with the cool girls at my church and

convince my dad that he should let me drive. I thought to myself, “I know I must have heard the

stories of immigrants’ struggles before… why hadn’t I cared?” The disturbing answer whittled

its way straight to my heart. It was because it wasn’t about me. At that time in my life, I was only

concerned with matters that directly affected me. If an issue didn’t hurt me or any of the people

that I loved, then I would have little compassion. However, that all was about to change. During

the brief moment when I read about the deported children’s lives being so drastically cut short, I

developed a strong sense of love for the undocumented people and their cause where previously I

was relatively neutral regarding the controversial subject. Because of this newfound passion for

the immigrant peoples, I was disheartened when my group was chosen to be in opposition of
illegal immigration. I decided, though, that I could still be in support of the undocumented’s best

interests while being against the effects illegal immigration and America’s policies concerning

illegal immigration has on the immigrants. As I truly knew nothing about the “immigration

controversy”, the first step I realized I had to take was to find out what policies America even

had. While studying with a Dreamer classmate who shared the same assignment, I looked at him

and asked, “What’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?” He glanced over at me curiously

and said, “You know – DACA.” Feeling slightly embarrassed that his mannerisms signaled that I

should’ve known what DACA was already, I just turned back around and said, “Oh, yeah. Ok.”

Outwardly, I appeared confident, yet inwardly, I knew I had a lot of work to do.

First things first, I set out to discover what DACA signified. I found out that Barack Obama

had created DACA in 2012 as a way in which illegal immigrants could temporarily reside within

American borders without the fear of deportation. I also learned how this policy only granted

amnesty to the young adults under thirty who’ve been living in America continuously since

2007. Honestly, I didn’t believe there was anything wrong with that policy at first, but because of

my given position on the topic, I began to research how to dismantle DACA and cause people to

question its proposed benefits. One major con that I easily found concerning DACA was that it

was a catalyst for a massive surge of undocumented people within American borders (Smith,

2015). It seemed as though DACA precipitated a lot of confusion in the main home countries of

illegal immigrants, such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Families, religious

organizations, and the media all encouraged the children to use smuggling cartels to sneak into

America, believing that when they arrived, they would receive amnesty.
From 2012 to 2014, apprehensions of unattended minors rose by 490 percent for El Salvador,

444 percent for Guatemala, and 610 percent for Honduras (Smith, 2015). At this point, I was

wondering why the percentages had risen so drastically and why the parents and other adults

within the communities were so intensely desiring that the children “escape” to America. I was

shocked to learn that these countries have some of the highest murder rates in the world and that

gang violence is a prevalent component of everyday life for these citizens. I was overwhelmed

with my conclusion that the adults in these countries, specifically the parents, just want better

lives for their kids than they have themselves. And they want their children to have that hope,

even if they don’t make it to that “better life” with them. However, DACA provided these

children with only false hopes. DACA motivated these children to risk being kidnapped, raped,

murdered, or trafficked along the dangerous trek through multiple countries to the American

border, only to learn that they were not welcome, and that, according to law, they were required

to be deported (Nakamura, 2014).

Another negative effect of DACA is that the policy does not appear to be permanent. As seen

recently, through only one change in presidency, there’s a heightened sense of fear surrounding

the DACA recipients’ cause. President Trump argues that DACA is unfair for American citizens

because illegal immigrants, specifically DACA students, steal jobs (Shear and Davis, 2017). He

is referring to the large numbers of DACA students who are successfully completing their

education and entering the workforce. That is the end result that I believe Obama hoped for when

he created DACA, but President Trump “wants his country back”, and is not keen on the
undocumented receiving jobs that could rightfully belong to American citizens. DACA has

placed a great burden of stress on the shoulders of its recipients now, because during the process

of applying for DACA, these young adults were required to “turn themselves in” and disclose to

the government that their presence was illegal. If the DACA program is officially discontinued in

the near future, their dreams of an education and life in America could easily be crushed, and

they could begin facing the threat of deportation once more. And due to the fact that DACA

recipients were required to give their personal information, including their places of residency, to

the officials during application, deportation would be no challenging feat for the American

government.

New regulations concerning DACA could also make it challenging for recipients to complete

their programs. Earlier this year, Arizona’s supreme court stated that DACA students couldn’t

obtain breaks on tuition from higher education facilities anymore. Originally, an Arizona DACA

student could qualify for in-state tuition, but now, according to this new ruling, he/she is required

to pay out-of-state tuition. This will force the student to pay approximately $5,000 per semester

when previously he/she only had to pay about $1,000 per semester (Kavilanz, 2018). Matthew

Henson, spokesman for Maricopa Community Colleges, sadly admitted that the increase in

tuition rates would probably force some DACA students to drop out. Ana Ascencio, a freshman

college student like me, said of the court ruling, “My whole college education dream has been

jerked out of my hands.”


That struck a chord in me, when I read of her discouragement and fear. Growing up, I knew that

I was blessed, but it never really registered to me how good I really had it. For starters, I was

born with an American citizenship, a possession that some people would give everything just to

own. Because of that, I can simply concentrate on my studies at college without fear of what the

government rules concerning me and if I have to be deported. Until I was required to research

this topic for my debate, I also was unaware that because DACA students aren’t legal citizens,

they are ineligible for federal student aid, which means that for the majority of DACA students,

the pressure of college debt is a burden that they have to bear. I was simply in awe and in

admiration of these students, so many of whom are my age, who are accepting such great

amounts of responsibility in their pursuit of a dream fulfilled. I was so angry at DACA for giving

these immigrants a taste of what they could have and could be, and then pulling those

opportunities away from them, saying, “Never mind.”

As I prepared for my debate, I battled with the fear of what I may communicate to my fellow

classmates, two of which are Dreamers. I realized that I was supposed to be against illegal

immigration and against DACA, the very policy that was allowing them to even be receiving an

education with me. I had no desire to offend them. My teammates and I used the most racist and

debatable points, from illegal immigrants stealing jobs to illegal immigrants committing

disproportionate amounts of felonies, to draw the conclusion that illegal immigrants should go

back to their native countries. I also effectively caused my classmates to question DACA.

Although I did a lot of research on the topic and had a substantial amount of data to back

everything that I said, my teammates and I were unsuspecting that our class would give us the
majority of votes in regards to who had the best argument. I felt bad about “winning” when I was

fighting for something that I didn’t necessarily believe in, and I didn’t want my friendship with

the Dreamer to be severed.

I apologized to him after the debate and complimented him on his debating skills. I could tell

that he appreciated my comments and that we would be able to continue on as friends. I

discovered during my debate that although I hate speaking in front of large groups of people, I

actually kind of enjoy the challenge of debating. I realize that I have a long way to go before I

can truly debate effectively, (I had almost everything that I was going to say written down on

cards), but I look forward to the next time when I have an opportunity to debate about something

that I’m very passionate about and that I believe in. In the case of this debate, although my team

and I “won”, what I would deem a great joy would be to see the Dreamers win, because everyone

wants to dream and everyone wants to live life abundantly.


References

Kavilanz, P. (2018). DACA students fear tuition ruling will force them to drop out of college.

Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/daca-students-fear-arizona-tuition-

ruling-will-force-them-to-drop-out-of-college/ar-AAw9idL

UNICEF. (2016). Risking it All to Escape Gang Violence and Poverty. Retrieved from

https://www.unicefusa.org/press/releases/risking-it-all-escape-gang-violence-and-

poverty/30744

Lee, E. (2014). Five Children Murdered After They Were Deported Back To Honduras.

Retrieved from https://thinkprogress.org/five-children-murdered-after-they-were-

deported-back-to-honduras-5e62e4103453/poverty/30744

Smith, I. (2015). Yes, Amnesty Encourages More Illegal Immigration. Retrieved from

https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/02/defying-common-sense-immigration-ian-smith/

Nakamura, D. (2014). Influx of minors across Texas border driven by belief that they will be

allowed to stay in U.S. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/influx-

of-minors-across-texas-border-driven-by-belief-that-they-will-be-allowed-to-stay-in-

us/2014/06/13/5406355e-f276-11e3-9ebc-

2ee6f81ed217_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.854923dadfa2

M. (2017). Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act. Retrieved from

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/us/politics/trump-daca-dreamers-immigration.html