University Political Action Committee hosts ‘Everything You Need to Know About DACA’ in the midst of national debate

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University Political Action Committee hosts ‘Everything You Need to Know About DACA’ in the midst of national debate

Dr. Amanda Boomershine speaking with students, faculty, staff and visitors about the regulations and issues surrounding DACA.

Dr. Amanda Boomershine speaking with students, faculty, staff and visitors about the regulations and issues surrounding DACA.

Helen Rogalski

Dr. Amanda Boomershine speaking with students, faculty, staff and visitors about the regulations and issues surrounding DACA.

Helen Rogalski

Helen Rogalski

Dr. Amanda Boomershine speaking with students, faculty, staff and visitors about the regulations and issues surrounding DACA.

Helen Rogalski, Managing Editor

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President Trump’s announcement last week to end the Obama Administration’s program the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program [DACA] sparked discussion across the nation and among UNCW students.

When the termination of DACA was announced, students on campus began discussing their stances on issues surrounding the program including immigration issues, civil rights and social responsibility.

Chancellor Sartarelli issued a statement via email on Sept. 6, the day after Trump’s announcement, stating, “There is no question that DACA students play a critical role on our campus, in our community, and as part of the fabric of this country.” He went on to ask that students and faculty join him in “offering all the support you can to those affected, directly or otherwise, by this turn of events.”

Shortly after, UNCW’s University Political Action Committee [UPAC] announced their upcoming event titled “Everything You Need to Know About DACA” with Dr. Amanda Boomershine, an associate professor of the World Languages and Cultures department. The event was held last night, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in Leutze Hall.

The lecture hall was filled close to capacity as students and visitors gathered for Dr. Boomershine’s presentation. She began with a video from Vox before touching on the beginnings of DACA, which occurred in June of 2012 following a decade long child immigrant discussion in Washington, which started when Senator Durbin introduced the DREAM Act in 2001.

A hefty part of the presentation was focused on the regulations surrounding the program and its participants. This included the $465 application fee, the regulations surrounding birth year, legal record, date of arrival, international travel, record of education, education status, work status, etc.

While many Americans are under the impression that DACA recipients are older, “Most people who applied for DACA were under the age of twelve,” said Dr. Boomershine.

In addition, it was outlined that DACA allows for the deferment of participants’ deportation for a period of two years “as long as you behave,” Dr. Boomershine said. Therefore, deportation is still a possible outcome for participants.

DACA also provides young immigrants, commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” with the opportunity to obtain a work permit, driver’s license, access to higher education and security card, among other amenities that improve their quality of life in America.

However, the struggles of DACA recipients to receive a driver’s license in North Carolina in particular were highlighted, as the original plan was to provide them with a specialized license depicting their legal status.

“We take all of this for granted,” Dr. Boomershine shared.  “The average student at UNCW has never had to worry ‘can I work or not?’ because we’re American.”

One woman in the lecture hall raised her hand and asked “Do they pay taxes?” to which the answer was “Yes.” DACA recipients are required to work legally and pay income taxes, sales tax, real estate property taxes, car taxes (if they have a car) and any other taxes American-born workers are required to pay. In fact, 76 percent DACA recipients are employed, 45 percent are employed and in school, and 20 percent are only in school.

Another audience member asked about whether or not DACA recipients are entitled to food stamps.

“That’s a common misconception that illegal immigrants qualify for food stamps,” responded Dr. Boomershine.

While over 800,000 people have enrolled in DACA, “That number is not going to go up because the program is over…we have lots of DACA recipients who are lawyers and doctors…they are probably going to lose their jobs now because they have lost their work permits.”

In response to Trump’s decision, 16 states are suing the federal government for ending DACA, 15 of which are suing together while California is making a separate case.

When talking about the hostility towards immigrants across America, a discussion arose about how much racism comes into play, and several students voiced their opinions on the matter, most supporting the idea but some disagreeing.

The opinions on DACA seem to be widespread on and off campus for a number of social and economic reasons. However, Dr. Boomershine shared statistics about the economic effects of the program’s termination in North Carolina.

About 27,000 children across North Carolina receive DACA, and over 23,000 of them are working. This will lead to around a billion dollar loss to the state’s economy.

As the issue surrounding immigration continues and with the six month renewal period beginning, Congress will continue to discuss the possibilities of saving, replacing or leaving behind DACA and similar programs.

Senators Durbin, a Democrat, and Graham, a Republican, have introduced the Dream Act of 2017.

“You went to high school with these kids, you grew up with them,” Dr. Boomershine said. And while the presence of DACA students is limited on UNCW’s campus due to the costs associated with attendance, as well as the prohibition of DACA recipients to qualify for federal financial aid, “These are real people we’re talking about here,” stated Dr. Boomershine.

SGA issued a statement to students and faculty via email Sept. 14 in regard to the DACA termination.

“To those who are directly affected by this rescinding, we as a student government stand beside you in solidarity. We wish to serve you, however we can,” they wrote.