Undocumented immigrant youth are facing a catch 22. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA), which Congress implemented this summer, would allow undocumented youth who have been in the U.S. for at least five years among other criteria to register with the government and then avoid the possibility of deportation. However, registering is a risky act because it basically tells the government that you are here illegally.
Even though DACA was put into action this August, only a small percentage of the 1.7 million eligible applicants have actually applied.This may primarily be due to the fact that these type of programs have a slow reaction period, meaning there is not enough knowledge or awareness on it, but others who are aware, have raised their concerns with the program.
Many of the eligible participants fear that registering will acknowledging their undocumented status and will result in alerting the government not only to their whereabouts but also their family members, who might not have protection under the DACA. Fearing repercussions for their family members, many eligible applicants refuse to register with the program, even though it would tremendously benefit them.
As well, many eligible participants are waiting until after the presidential elections, fearing that Mitt Romney might change or eliminate this new program and they will have ended up just alerting the government of their illegal presence in the country.
A program like this is in real need in the United States and I think that is great that we were able to finally initiate something like this. These youth did not have a choice about moving to the United States, and were not the ones that immigrated without documentation. Therefor they should not only, not be blamed for their parent’s actions, but also should be protected from them.
A program like the DACA or the DREAM Act is essential to stopping the cycle of poverty within immigrant communities and in creating more possibilities for upward mobility. These youth who have been here for most of their lives deserve to be treated with the same rights as those who were born here, because there is truly very little difference between them and someone who is a second generation.