Talking about the policy changes that have taken place lately, I want to review a conversation I had with someone about the situation.
She sat beside me and said: “People are sad. They don’t look happy, and they feel their lives lack the sparkle and zest that one should have in midlife”. We went on to discuss the reasons for her statement.
At a graduation party, this woman who had been here undocumented for twenty- five years, with five US citizen children, was happy for the bright future her nephew was celebrating. The young man, born here had an open path to college, scholarships, future studies and work without having to look over his shoulder for the police to arrive. On the other hand she continues to drive every Monday and during the week without a license, always praying that nothing goes wrong that may attract the attention of the local authorities and would throw her life and the lives of her children into complete chaos. She was tired of waiting for a solution to her immigration status. No party or celebration could be shared fully, without always thinking how a possible deportation may cause a complete financial, social, psychological disaster to her family.
This past week was uneventful for most. Whatever change in immigration policy made by the current president did not affect most people, but for the woman in the story, it made life look like an endless time of shutting doors to her future and that of her children.
Those families, who were hoping for a change to their lives through the approval of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) was created as part of President Obama’s immigration executive action, saw their dreams and hopes come to an end. Even though DAPA had been signed in 2014, it never took place after being blocked in court.
DACA, the executive action that protects about 750.000 individuals who were brought to US illegally as children, will continue to be in place until further notice, but DAPA will not become true for anyone.
The presidential executive orders had made it possible for thousands of immigrants to legalize their status so they could work and study legally with a social security number and have access to driver’s licenses. They joined the special pool of people who have some guarantees under the law, but are none the less forever waiting for their status to be changed to an unlawful one, like it is happening to people under TPS (Temporary Protected Status), granted to people from Haiti, Nepal, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Yemen and other countries also may see their immigration status suddenly changed. Some of these countries have had TPS since 1999 and now, like in the case of Haiti, they have received a warning that TPS will end for them.
Try telling a common citizen that thousands of people have lived and worked in United States under these immigration provisions, having the right to work and pay taxes, without ever leaving the country or having a path to citizenship. All those under programs like DACA and TPS are always exposed to any arbitrary change that may cause complete havoc to their lives, without most people knowing how these lives and the lives of their US citizen children have no say about their future.
After the conversation about people been sad and hopeless today, I could only agree with the woman speaking to me. It was a day to celebrate the work and luck of many children graduating, but it was also a sad day for those who will continue living with no hope of positive change to their futures.
It was a regular week for most people in the US, yet it was also a dark day for many who work and live here.
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