By Allison Dang
Many students were upset when Donald Trump was elected president, especially because of his extreme anti-immigrant and even racist statements.
On September 5, one of their big fears was realized when the new president announced the end of an executive order created by former President Obama, called Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), that allowed minors who had entered the country illegally to stay, as long as they renew the permission every two years.
After their current permission runs out, they can be detained, deported, and torn from the life they’ve known for much of their life. Roughly 800,000 childrens will be affected by the decision to end DACA, and its cancellation has brought much fear to both students and their families here in Oakland.
For junior Alex Trujillo, it hits her close to home, as it directly affects her sister whose birth home was Michoacan, Mexico.
“I’m sad that just because they are from a different country they are treated differently and imp
roper,” she said. “[They] don’t get the same opportunity as someone from the U.S.”
Her sister was in the DACA permission process just as its cancellation was announced. She said her family is looking for a lawyer to help. No DACA permission applications were accepted after October 5, 2017.
“I think DACA needs to stay active because all the people who had it are working just as hard or even harder than the people who are originally from the U.S.,” said Alex, “and they should be treated equally.”
Mr. Barbuto, the head of the Education Academy, said he knows students who are deeply affected by Trump’s decision.
“I had students crying,” he said. They have a lot of “fear about what’s gonna happen to them and are just overwhelmed about what they can do for their future and what they can do about [the end of DACA]. Because they were giving the opportunity to move towards becoming legal in the U.S., but now [there is] a pushback, a setback.”
Since Trump overturned Obama’s DACA policy, defenders of undocumented immigrants have turned to Congress, hoping it will make a law that provides similar temporary protections for young undocumented immigrants. However, with the president’s Republican Party controlling both houses of Congress, such a solution seems unlikely before 2019.
Without DACA, even those who manage to avoid deportation still face unique obstacles to advancement. In some states, for example, they are specifically not allowed to attend public universities. “Alabama and South Carolina forbid undocumented immigrants from enrolling in all state universities, while Georgia forbids them from enrolling in some state universities, according to the National Immigration Law Center,” Alan Gomez told USA Today.
Even if they are allowed to attend public colleges, as they are in liberal California, it will be more difficult to to find funds than for those students who are citizens or have legal permission to live here. The end of DACA means they will lose their work permit, for example, making it harder to provide for themselves. Federal student loans and grants will also be inaccessible.
There are many resources like the Immigrant Resource Center to help their situation, but because of all the current commotion, most of the places offering free or affordable services are busy and packed with many cases. “It’s a lot easier to get service if you pay for it but not a lot of students can do that,” said Barbuto.
For Alex Trujillo, the person to blame for this suffering is clear. “I think [President Trump] is a heartless person because he treats undocumented people as if they aren’t humans but we all are the same,” she said. “Sadly, he doesn’t see that.