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DACA Renewals and Executive Action: MIchelle S. Velasco

July 17, 2014 (1 min read)

"I have personally processed over 100 DACA applications in the past two years. When talking to these young immigrants and their families, it is often impossible to tell apart the individuals who were born here and the ones who were brought here. DACA requestors speak like Americans, look like Americans, and dream the American dream like native-born Americans. It is hard to put into words the unfairness of their lives: to live in a country that is oftentimes the only one they have known, and yet to be denied full recognition and basic equal treatment. Worse, they are called “illegal” and are made to feel unwanted and unwelcome. This treatment is confusing and painful to many of these young people who had no choice about coming to the U.S. Yet they are undoubtedly the future of this country. They will help shape the U.S. cultural, economic, and political landscape. And we are not doing enough to acknowledge their presence, since they are here to stay, and provide them with the tools to be full active members of American society. ... Because the basis of a deferred action grant is DHS’s policy of prosecutorial discretion, it remains only in the form of executive action and it is not an actual law passed by Congress and signed by the President. DACA and any other executive action are thus vulnerable to attacks from groups and individuals who consider them an overreach by the Obama administration. These attacks, such as Arizona’s driver’s license law, are often informed by fear and a fundamental misunderstanding of immigration law. Litigation to strike down these anti-immigrant and anti-immigration state laws, which are arguably preempted by federal law, can sometimes take years. Moreover, executive action while necessary in the face of Congressional inaction is limited in scope: it cannot grant visas or permanent residence, which only Congress can do by expanding the eligibility categories for permanent residence. Meanwhile, immigrants languish in backlogged visa lines, wait months and years for hearings before an immigration judge, face harsh vitriol from anti-immigration groups, and DACA recipients still do not have a way to become fully integrated into American life." - Michelle S. Velasco, July 14, 2014.