Letter: Dreamers and DACA

To the Editor:

I came to the United States from Cuba at the age of 16 to attend school. Had I been deported back to Cuba 15 years later, I would have been devastated, heartbroken and unsure what to do or where to turn. I obviously was not deported and have had a long, successful life as an American citizen, proud of America and thankful for the opportunities it provided me. Given that history, I am extremely interested in the current debate over how we should treat the many undocumented immigrants who came to our country as children (dreamers).

Under the Obama Administration's "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals"(DACA) policy, these childhood arrivals could obtain work permits and avoid deportation for renewable two-year periods if they were employed, in school or in the military, as long as they passed a background check. The Trump administration has rescinded that policy and, unless Congress takes actions, all these immigrants will soon face the risk of deportation.

Some 1.8 million currently undocumented immigrants entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday. The average age at which they arrived is 6. Their average age today is 25. What they know of life is American. The 690,000 immigrants currently in the DACA program are very law abiding— only 0.2 percent of immigrants in the DACA program have had their status revoked because of criminal or gang activity.

Is there any objective reason these young people should not stay in the only country they know as home? This is where they have lived, studied and worked. It is the country many of them have served as members of the military. These immigrants also benefit our country greatly: (1) without immigration our workforce will soon begin to shrink; (2) the 17 percent of the workforce that are immigrants are responsible for one third of all patents filed in the U.S. Congress really needs to act to protect the DACA immigrants. Then it needs to act to reform our overall immigration system. It would be delightful to see Congress passing laws that make sense instead of bickering and fighting. And forget the pure silliness of "the wall."

Magdalena Usategui



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