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DACA uncertainty leaves recipients feeling like lawmakers’ ‘playing piece’

Lidia Garcia, a first- year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as a teenager. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller Reporter

For six months, March 5 had loomed fatefully in the distance, an impending deadline for Congress to pass legislation reforming the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that was rescinded by President Donald Trump six months earlier.

Now March 5 has come and gone, and while Congress has yet to pass a permanent legislative solution, two court cases are enabling DACA recipients to continue to apply for work permit renewals.

These cases might provide temporary relief to DACA recipients hoping to live and work legally in the U.S., but they do not provide a sustainable solution or a path to citizenship for the nearly 800,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children who are enrolled in the Obama-era program.

Ohio State DACA students are keenly aware of this, and some say they are tired of being used as pawns in the political game of immigration reform, their lives used as leverage in an ongoing debate about border control.

“Stop using us as a playing piece,” said Lidia Garcia, a first-year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and DACA recipient. “We might have not been able to vote [our congressmen] into their positions, but they’ve been voted into office by the American people, and American citizens are saying these children deserve to have rights and to have this pathway to citizenship.”

Garcia was interviewed by The Lantern in September, when the Trump administration first announced its plan to dismantle DACA. At the time, she hoped the decision would lead to meaningful policy change that would guarantee her future, enabling her to legally live and work in the United States.

This is all I know. This is my home. But at the end of the day, I want to know, is [DACA reform] going to happen? Because living in uncertainty is not a good life. —Yuri Arteaga, third-year in accounting

Now, however, that hope has evolved into frustration. She fears that the rights afforded to her under DACA might be taken away, perhaps in the near future.

“Being stripped of [those rights] is like being treated like an animal,” she said. “Animals have more rights than us right now. I feel like we are no more than a puzzle piece in all of this, a pawn in this legislative obsession with immigration.”

Garcia is not the only DACA recipient at Ohio State who feels this way.

Yuri Arteaga, a third-year in accounting, also is worried about what his future might look like without DACA.

Arteaga moved to the U.S. from El Salvador with his mother and sister when he was 5 years old to join family who already lived in the country legally.

He’s lived in Columbus for most of his life, but his DACA status was set to expire at the beginning of August.

“Originally, I thought, ‘Wow, in less than a year, I’m not going to have a status in this country,’” he said. “So the court injunction has been a blessing because I’ve been able to renew my DACA. I guess I’ll have another two years in this country. At least I’ll be able to graduate.”

But what will come after graduation? Both Garcia and Arteaga would like to build their careers in the U.S., but neither are certain if that will be possible.

“This is all I know,” Arteaga said. “This is my home. But at the end of the day, I want to know, is [DACA reform] going to happen? Because living in uncertainty is not a good life.”

7 comments

  1. DACA creates a serious question in that the families who brought these children have violated American sovereignty and if DACA recipients become citizens then they will try to give their families residency in the states. If we can allow DACA to stay and to still penalize those who violated American sovereignty, would that not satiate even the harshest conservative?

  2. Being brought here illegally when you are young, or having babies here, getting away with breaking our laws for 10, 20 or more years, still don’t make it right. Illegals are criminals and our laws need enforced.

  3. Where a person is born has no bearing on their humanity. I’m disgusted that “illegal immigration” evokes such disgusting responses in its critics. Why do you feel so possessive of this country that was stolen from natives? There is no “American sovereignty.” Stop objectifying human beings!

  4. Clash City Rocker

    Donald Dotard Trump is not our President. He talks about “illegal immigration” but Melania came here as an “illegal”. Donny Traitor illegally occupies the WH because of Russian cybernetic attacks on the electoral college network. His racism is very explicit and clear – the Muslim ban is one countries he has no business interests in, and he delayed hurricane relief to AMERICAN CITIZENS of Puerto Rico because of his hatred of Latino/a people. Last year on Lane Ave. – on the OSU campus I saw 2 Hammerskin (a white racist gang) bikers. He stood with the neo-Nazi scum who acted up in Charlottesville last year. As an OSU alumnus and a military veteran I am sickened and disgusted that this moronic Mussolini is stirring up such racist passions and he’s just like Slobodan Milosevic the S.O.B. who destroyed Yugoslavia thru his ‘ethnic cleansing’. That is exactly what Trumptraitor is doing now – against Latino/a people. That childish Hitleresque hatemonger is objectifying human beings like Brooke said above (and he certainly objectifies women for his egotistical pleasure and ABUSE). Donald Douchebag Trump is not fit to clean the latrines of the OSU ROTC building or to tongue lick-shine the shoes of any previous President . He is an uncouth ill-mannered immature racist scumbag and as a US citizen, OSU Buckeye alumnus, and military service veteran I say for God’s sake we must stop this imbecile and his ILLEGAL actions because he is a cancer on American democracy. This is not a partisan or ‘conservative’/’liberal’ issue, it’s a fascism issue. Trump is ignoring our Constitution, violating it and breaking the law and he is not above it!

    • Mean Mr. Mustard's Patron

      Just a little tip, you might want to tone it down a bit. Any message you may have is getting lost behind your hate, rage, name calling, uncouth, immature and bullish presentation.

  5. Wonder if the legal status of Yuri Arteaga’s human trafficking family will be revoked. Since their parents caused this problem we should all be able to agree that they should be deported and not allowed to return.

  6. I lived legally in the state of Ohio for 35 years, yet pay out of state tuition for my son to attend my alma mater Ohio State. These dreamers live illegally in Ohio, and get in state tuition and access to special scholarships. Something is messed up when criminals are treated better then law abiding citizens.

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