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viewpoint

Our peers in the shadows

| Monday, March 23, 2015

We know that Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a hot topic, but do we even know what it is or what it would do? The reality is there are many among us whose lives depend on us. They are hidden behind the shadows of this debate.

In 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill in hopes to build a stronger future for our country within our economy and community. The bill was then sent to the House, where it was not successful. The House speaker and leaders even refused to vote on the bill. This triggered President Obama to create an immigration executive action. This action would provide citizenship and relief from deportation for families who have been in the United States for more than five years. It requires them to undergo a background check and pay taxes.

This caught Congress’ attention; they replied with a vote to repeal the President’s executive action.

Why does this affect you? It may not yet, but there are students who are passionate about the immigration reform because it protects DACA status.

Those with DACA status are individuals who have lived in the United States continuously since January 2010. If they meet certain qualifications, they may apply for temporary deferment for two or three years. This means individuals have temporary legal status in the United States, a Social Security number and relief from deportation.

DACA status helps qualified individuals receive education and economic opportunities. You might not realize, but many young adults have DACA status throughout our college communities (Holy Cross College, Saint Mary’s College and University of Notre Dame).

How can we help protect immigration reform or DACA status? We see U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski as a key asset to continue this conversation throughout the House. She voted to repeal Obama’s executive action, but there were 26 other U.S. Republican representatives who did not vote to repeal the president’s actions due to protecting those with DACA status. Our goal is to encourage Congresswoman Walorski to communicate with these other representatives to understand better why they voted against the repeal as the conversation continues.

Although she agrees the immigration system is a “step-by-step” process, there has not been consistent progress overall.

We must take a stand to help fix the broken immigration system. In the past, the U.S. government has put large amounts of money into the border, but it has not made a huge impact. The system still needs to be fixed. This can happen if we change our focus from hardening the borders to helping those people who are already here.

It seems that the House, Senate and the president cannot come to an agreement on how to repair our broken immigration system. We can only assume they are not hearing the people’s voice.

As young voters, we must fight to keep the conversation of immigration reform going by educating and engaging those throughout our community. We must ask Congresswoman Walorski to shine light on this issue and brighten the lives of our undocumented peers.

 

Joelle Poettgen

junior

Holy Cross College

March 19

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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