Op-ed: Home is Here

My big plans of traveling to the United States with the hope of gaining a better education began in Poland when my family got approved for their green card in 2012. Three years later, I landed at JFK airport. Only later, I realized that the journey to the US often is not as smooth and easy. Many of my high school friends in New York were undocumented, and only a few lucky ones were DACA recipients.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an executive action ratified in 2012 by the US Department of Homeland Security testifying that certain undocumented youth who came to the United States as children would not be deported. On September 5, 2017, Trump’s administration rescinded DACA, however, on June 28, 2019, the US Supreme Court agreed to review cases of DACA termination to determine if the Trump administration tried to illegally end the program. 

As of August 17, 2018, the applications for first-time DACA seekers are not being reviewed, only applications for renewal are considered. This news left my friends with fears of deportation and fears for their futures. They abandoned their plans for further education and resolved to staying at home, away from the regular ICE raids on the streets and subway stations.

One of my closest friends spent three weeks traveling from Honduras to New York to escape gang violence and persecution and has now reached safe asylum. He was forced to skip classes to attend multiple court hearings and fight for his right to remain in the US. He was also simultaneously providing for his family, three younger siblings and his parents while working on high school assignments.

DACA recipients more often than not were brought to the US as toddlers, grew up here, and have considered the US their home. Taking away DACA, which provided documents that allowed to safely attend school and work legally, is also stripping them of the right to remain in their homeland. Their families hail from different lands, but those who are DACA recipients are first and foremost human beings who are trying to find opportunities in their home countries. They are the future and hope of this nation and they need our support.

Lafayette students, I encourage you to partake in the Defend DACA workshop this Sunday and the following “March in Solidarity” to raise awareness about DACA on campus. Becoming vocal allies for DACA ensures that we are creating a welcoming space for people of diverse backgrounds. By being open about their legal status, DACA recipients are risking their safety during the current political debate. It is vital to use our privilege and power to support those who need help most.

See you in the streets!

Written by Milena Berestko ’22