My graduation is right around the corner, so, naturally, people keep asking me what my next step will be. Will I be working? Will I find an internship? Will I take some time off? Or will I maybe pursue a master’s degree?
The truth is that I am unsure what comes after my graduation because my future isn’t completely in my hands. My future is tied to the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Donald Trump’s administration’s plan to end DACA. Although the news was horrifying for me, it didn’t really come as a surprise — DACA was an executive order signed by former president Barack Obama as a temporary fix for undocumented childhood arrivals.
Still, I tried to avoid the panic by listening attentively to what exactly the end of DACA meant. According to the original terms set by the Trump administration that day, no new applicants were going to be accepted. Existing beneficiaries were allowed to apply for renewal until October 2017, if their DACA expiration date was March 5, 2018, or sooner.
Because my DACA expiration is Dec. 27, 2018, I didn’t initially fit the renewal requirement. At that moment, I accepted that my days of DACA protections were numbered.
Shortly after Sessions made the announcement, Trump stated that the measures taken that morning to end DACA were the best way to “(provide) minimum disruption.” I ran this naive statement in my head multiple times, each time becoming more insulted and even angrier by the insensitivity of these words.
It’s absurd to state that placing an expiration date on the protection from deportation and secure legal employment is the “minimum disruption,” when in reality it’s incredibly detrimental to so many individuals and families. The Trump administration didn’t offer an alternative policy to DACA — instead, it placed the future of the DACA program and its recipients in the hands of Congress and stamped it with a deadline of March 5, 2018.
Since DACA was rescinded, my dreams have been disrupted. The government’s indecisiveness over the DACA program has left all its recipients in limbo, waiting day by day on a decision.
The October 2017 deadline to renew DACA permits was eventually extended. And as of now, all current DACA recipients are eligible for renewal. This is a partial relief for me because at least now I have the option to renew my permit.
Congress’s March 5 deadline turned out to be malleable too — no immigration legislation was agreed upon on that date. And now it’s uncertain when a legislation will be discussed again.
Lawmaker’s indecisiveness over whether to modify, eliminate or replace DACA worries me because it makes me wonder what my future will look like. Although I’m currently eligible to renew my DACA permit, I worry that this decision too, like so many others, may be revoked before my renewal appointment May 29.
Every day, I wake up and check updates on the DACA program because my situation appears to be changing on a daily basis.
Already, the effects of rescinding DACA have placed me in a position where I’m unable to make long-term plans post-graduation because I don’t have a permanent sense of security. The instability of my legal status has affected my ability to make decisions on what steps to take next. Should I risk it all and apply for my dream job? Or should I play it safe and take the job that pays well so I may save money in case I lose DACA and my right to employment later on?
I try my best to plan my future according to my aspirations rather than my legal status, but every time I submit an application, I can’t help but stop and wonder how long I have left of being legal in the United States. My state of legality is so short-lived.
Sometimes I consider disclosing to potential employers that although I possess the skills, experience and character desired for the position, I am a DACA recipient whose future is uncertain. I want to be transparent with potential employers, but I’m also afraid that disclosing this fact may cause them to reject my application.
Yes, I have the opportunity to renew DACA — if nothing changes from here to May 29. But that just means that I’ll be extending protections for a mere two years. What comes after that period is up?
For now, I’m left with no choice other than to continue to build a future on an unstable foundation that threatens to shatter at any given point.