Two years after being enacted by President Barack Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been renewed by the Department of Homeland Security for a second round. The program, which thus far has provided relief to 560,000 undocumented immigrants, has been recognized by its ability to shield young immigrants from deportation, granting them a work permit, a social security card, and in some states the ability to pay in-state tuition and obtain a drivers license.
While the renewal is being celebrated by most eligible undocumented youth, many of whom are already finding employment or are climbing the ladder of higher education, there is still a lot of unrest with the immigrant rights movement.
Two years have gone by and the same uncertainties dating from 2012 remain. Deportations continue under President Obama's administration, abuses at the border by CBP officers have been exposed, and there is still no sign of Congress moving on comprehensive immigration reform.
The only assurances that undocumented immigrants have as of today are very simple and straightforward. Those who have DACA can re-apply for the program again, given they can afford the $465 fee; while those who do not are still subject to deportation.
It really is that black and white. The President's review of deportation policy, the only glimmer of relief for our community, is now stalled, thanks to the efforts of certain organizations that preferred political clout over giving immigrant communities relief. Ergo, expect thousands of deportations from now until the end of August, which is when the President will unveil whatever "humane" revisions the Department of Homeland Security has made to their deportation policy.
Meanwhile, in Congress, Republicans seem to still be torn on the issue. With primaries from across the country demonstrating that opposing immigration reform is no longer a winning argument, Speaker John Boehner continues his argument that it is the President, not him, who is blocking reform. Yes, the argument continues even after the Senate bill celebrated its first birthday.
Immigrant activists are visibly fed up, and not just with Congress or the President. As civil disobedience actions continue to surge all across the United States, calling for a halt to deportations, the only message to the obstructionists in Washington D.C. is: we can't wait.
We can't wait as our parents continue to fear that they may be ripped apart from their homes and families. We can't wait because some of us do not qualify for DACA. We can't wait for our local governments to act before the federal government. We can't wait as abuses at the hands of immigration officials continue to go unchecked.
Let us stop and reflect on where we are, how we got here, and where we are headed. Despite the fact that some of us being able to breathe a sigh of relief, the work to achieve a sensible reforms that will bring about change to immigration laws is far from over.
For now, individuals who wish to renew their Deferred Action should start gearing up with resources. Ensure that you consult a trusted attorney or local organization to handle your case, start saving to pay the renewal fee, and be sure to stay informed should your family members be caught by the president's deportation machine.