Article By Tamara Uribe
Don’t Dreamers Deserve to be Deported?
There is a common belief that if Dreamers would just “get their act together” and apply for citizenship, their problems would be solved, but because they have frittered away valuable time and not gotten their citizenship application turned in they deserve to be deported. However, if the solution to the Dreamers’ problem was as simple as just applying for citizenship, the vast majority of Dreamers would have done so by now and we would not be having this national debate.
What is a Dreamer?
Briefly, Dreamers are young people who were brought illegally to this country as minors. Under a policy call Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) young people who met certain criteria could apply for a deferment from deportation that was renewable every two years. They also became eligible for a work permit. Some of the most important criteria Dreamers had to prove to be eligible for the program was they could not have been convicted of a felony offense or a significant misdemeanor or more than three misdemeanors of any kind. In addition, they could not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The program was risky for Dreamers because they would need to register for it, be vetted, and make their whereabouts known. But over 800,000 young people came forward, met the criteria, and registered. This was their chance to live a normal life in the only country they had every know and many of them were elated to seize the opportunity. But in September 2017 the Trump administration ended the DACA program, putting all registered Dreamers at risk of being deported.
Why Didn’t Dreamers Just Apply for Citizenship?
There are criteria every person who wants to apply for citizenship must meet, such as being able to speak, read, and write English and understand US History, among other things. But the most important – and the most difficult – criterion is the applicant must be a legal permanent resident (a green card holder.) There are only 3 paths open to apply for legal permanent residency:
1. A person can be admitted as a refugee or apply for asylum.
2. A person can be sponsored by an eligible employer.
3. A legal family member gains permission to bring someone to the US.
Of the above listed methods to gain permanent residency, being sponsored by a family member is usually the path for most people seeking citizenship. Unfortunately, most Dreamers do not have a family member who can sponsor them for permanent residency as their first step on the road to citizenship – that is why they have not and cannot apply for citizenship.
Stand with Dreamers
I think the most important thing to understand is that Dreamers came forward under DACA and proved they were upstanding citizens who had not committed crimes – they voluntarily came out of the shadows. Now they are easily identified and found. Because of their honesty, they now risk being ripped from their families and the only country they have ever known. They risk being forced to go to a country they know nothing about, a country where they don’t know the language, a country where they don’t understand the customs, a country where know very few or no people, a country where they face poverty because they would be unemployable.
This seems a harsh sentence for young people who had no choice or role in coming to this country. This is why, as a Christian, I stand with Dreamers and I hope you and other Christians will do the same.