TFS Speaks: In Defense of DACA



In light of the week’s events surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, multiple journalists at The Forest Scout have asked to weigh in on the issue to provide a firm stance for our publication.

Elizabeth Porter, Senior Editor–Author of “The Final Word”:

“From a president willing to pardon Joe Arpaio, ban immigration from six Muslim majority countries, and “build a wall,” the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) comes as no great surprise. Now, the American people collectively turn to Congress in hopes that they can replace this legislation within six months and avoid the consequences that ending DACA would have on hundreds of thousands of American lives.

I don’t know if there are any Dreamers here at LFHS, but I do know that there are many living near here. Working the same jobs, attending the same schools, reading the same newspapers, cheering for the same sports teams, eating at the same restaurants, and shopping at the same stores that we all do. I know that they are as American as I am.

If there are Dreamers at LFHS I want to say first that I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have to deal with this uncertainty and unfairness. Second, you belong here, just like anyone else. Regardless of what anyone in Washington D.C. says, you have a place in this country, this town and this society. Lake Forest, like any community, is strengthened by diversity. By good, hardworking, people embracing the ideals of the American dream and living their lives without fear or shame.

And to any members of the Lake Forest community who believe that Dreamers do not have a place here, I say unequivocally and without apology: you’re wrong. While we wait with bated breath to see what will happen next, please know that The Forest Scout wholeheartedly supports you and that we are optimistic about a favorable outcome to all of this.”

Kyle Wix, Senior–Voice of the Daily Dose:

“The news has been quite busy in the last couple weeks. We have seen relentless hurricanes, uncertainty over North Korea, and now the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). While all these stories are important in influential on our lives, the end of the DACA program happens to be the only one that is fully in our control as an American society.

DACA is, or now I guess was, a program created by the Obama Administration in 2012 by executive order to help protect minors that were brought into the United States illegally by their parents. The program gives these young adults the opportunity to avoid deportation and receive work permits as long as they meet certain standards, such as a clean criminal record, high school diploma, etc. Nearly 800,000 undocumented young adults have been beneficiaries of the program since its inception. The program is intended to prevent these kids, otherwise known as Dreamers, from being deported from the United States. For many Dreamers, the U.S. is the only place many of them know as they have grown up here and lived here for most of their lives. DACA is a program that embraces the core American values. It is a program that supports the ideas of inclusion and hard work in which our country was built upon. However, the Trump Administration felt the need to terminate this valuable government program, and possibly foster even more hatred and discrimination during a time when those dangerous feelings are blossoming in our society.  

This decision from President Trump was not at all surprising. All along his campaign trail, the president had taken a clear stance against illegal immigration and amnesty of these so called Dreamer kids who have turned into successful American young men and women. His administration bashed illegal immigrants for hurting Americans by taking away their jobs, lowering wages, and being a burden on society. These accusations could not have been further from the truth of what the dreamers actually do. According to The Atlantic, one of the most trusted current event magazines in America, the average Dreamer makes $17 an hour, far above the minimum wage and above the average American income. Thus, these dreamers are not driving down wages for other citizens of the U.S. Additionally, these dreamers pay taxes on their wages without receiving any government benefits from those taxes. In fact, the Dreamers paid an estimated 11.64 billion dollars in taxes last year which was basically just a large donation to the U.S. government. The majority of Dreamers have or are pursuing a bachelor’s degree which will allow them to contribute to society with their skills and knowledge. Not only do they contribute financially and intellectually, but all the Dreamers under the DACA program have clean criminal records or else they wouldn’t be eligible for inclusion within the program. The fact of the matter is that these young adults are immensely beneficial to America in a time when the country needs all the help it can get. To deport these undocumented immigrants would not only be economically insensible, but morally wrong.

Prior to terminating DACA, President Trump praised the young adults protected by the program and called them “incredible kids.” In fact, he said that he loved them. Following those statements, he effectively hung those kids out to dry with immense anxiety and uncertainty over their futures.

The fact that our president would act this way is quite discouraging, but unfortunately this pattern is nothing new. On the surface, Trump may look like he is caring for the Dreamers by praising them and calling on Congress to form a solution for them. The truth is President Trump does not care if these kids are saved, and, based on his actions, he most likely wants them deported. If Trump meant what he said there would be absolutely no reason to end DACA in the first place. Instead of taking responsibility for his hate and discrimination, Trump deferred the responsibility to Congress in order to save the kids, which is a losing battle.

Former President Barack Obama created DACA due to Congress’ inactivity on the issue, and the present day Congress will most likely not have the cooperation to formulate a solution. Trump gave Congress six months to protect the dreamers, but I think most of us already know that is not enough time for a bill or action to be created with a very stagnant and unproductive Congress. Sadly, the Dreamers got little to no support from the president of the country in which they have lived their lives. These young adults have done so much to make themselves and the country better off and got nothing from their president in return. Trump took the burden and the blame off of his own shoulders and sent it elsewhere so he could feel comfortable with his beliefs and call himself the nice guy. If he really wanted to be the nice guy and the decent, forward-thinking leader of the free world,  he would have stood up to protect the Dreamers himself, but instead he was, per usual, all bark and no bite. So with the President Trump’s actions complete for now, it is time to ask if this is the United States we want to live in and, if not, what are we as the people of America going to do about it?

The Trump Administration stabbed the backs of the Dreamers and the American values with its actions this week.

The United States is supposed to be a country that welcomes in people from all walks of life. We are a country built upon diversity and a pillar of freedom and democracy in the world. Yet at times like these we have a leader and a society that has been filled with hatred and discrimination toward others. I find it hard to fathom that people would think it is acceptable to deport hundreds of thousands of people who contribute to their society. Why in the world would we get rid of valuable assets? It is time for everyone to reflect and think about what it means to be an American.

Like the undocumented young adults, we as citizens did not all choose to live here. We were brought or born into this country without any say or choice and America became our home. The Dreamers are no different. They came here and took the initiative to make themselves and this country better; there is nothing more American than that.

For those people that think it is acceptable to get rid of people that deserve to be here, then they should think about whether or not they belong in this country. Do those people really possess the values necessary to be a true American? I am always one for cooperation and compromise during difficult times, but it is clear now that is no longer an option that can be effective with the new administration and rehashed beliefs in America. The responsibility is on us now–as loving and compassionate Americans–to stand up and protect those that deserve to live in a country like this.

Through all the devastating decisions, discrimination, and hate, there shines a glimmer of hope in our democratic system. The president has put Congress in charge of formulating a plan to save these dreamers. As the people of the free world we can influence our legislators to step up and save these kids from deportation. In the process, we can remind the world and our own people of our values and what it means to be an American. It is time to step up and fight to preserve the American values before cruel people strip them down in a hasty effort to benefit themselves.

In America, we are still in control of the society we want to see. One question remains: will we step up and protect the American values that we know deep down are right?”

Grace Scheidler, Senior Editor-in-Chief–Author of “TFS Person of the Year” 

At the present moment, parts of California, Oregon, and Canada are on fire. Swaths of Texas are still underwater from a hurricane that passed a little over a week ago. Harvey would have been bad enough, excepting the unprecedented hurricane Irma that superseded it and is now wreaking havoc on Florida and the southeastern coast. The strongest earthquake in over a hundred years rocked Mexico just this past night.

In the past, Americans have been strongest in times of crises. Think 9/11, Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy. One would think, with all of this added on top of the regular presidential workload, that President Trump would have more than enough to keep himself occupied. But now, with an inept leadership that seems to have its sights set on dividing our country in two, we are more vulnerable than ever especially with the natural disasters razing the world around us.

It is going to take all of us, every single American with a free hand, to pick ourselves out of this mess. Not every legally-documented American, not every natural-born American, but anyone who loves this country and doesn’t want to see it crumble. Getting rid of DACA is the wrong decision. DACA is in place to help young adults who, through no fault of their own, were brought here as children and consider the United States the only home they’ve ever known. It’s not a green card or a pathway to citizenship, but a means of prolonging deportation in two-year chunks so that they can continue their education, or legally get a job, or do whatever else they can to make themselves proud, productive members of this country–even paying income taxes.

As I said before, we need this kind of American especially now, the one who’s not afraid to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get to work. Should Trump’s plan of abolishing the program go through Congress, we would be losing a possible 800,000 Americans. If Congress doesn’t pass any further measure to protect those under DACA, by August 2019 an additional 320,000 could be at risk for deportation. Among that group could be the next great innovators of our time, and we cannot afford to lose them. It is not fair to us as a country, and it’s not fair to them as individuals to take away their chance at being a part of this place that’s capable of so much greatness. If you’d like to learn more about DACA, CNN has a great article on the program here.

Brett Chody, Senior Editor–Author of “An Open Letter to the Anti-Hoco Establishment”

You hear your parents discussing politics at dinner, or peers chatting about it in the halls. Maybe you downloaded the CNN app to get breaking news on your home screen, or solely rely on passive-aggressive Facebook posts to learn what’s going on in our country. One way or another, you’re most likely up to date on President Trump and the decisions he’s made thus far. The travel ban, withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, “the wall”, to name a few, are colossal political rulings that have shaken countless lives across America and around the world. But Tuesday’s announcement from the White House that President Trump was repealing DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, is different. It is directly impacting Americans our age, even in our own Lake Forest High School.

DACA, a program institutionalized by the Obama Administration in June 2012, gives illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors a two year window to get a job and not worry about being deported. The majority of the 800,000 young people, otherwise known as Dreamers, who are enrolled in the program do not know any other life other than the one in the United States; they may not even know the language of the country their parents are from.

What is the reasoning for the repeal? Well, the Trump Administration believes that DACA has deprived natural-born Americans from jobs, encouraged more illegal immigration, and is simply unconstitutional. However, research has shown that there are no major negative effects that have come with the implementation of DACA. In fact, even if there were negatives, the positives would outweigh them tremendously. A study by the National Immigration Law Center in which 1,308 Dreamers–randomly selected–were surveyed, 61.2% of Dreamers have been able to earn more money to support their families, 60% have pursued educational opportunities that they previously could not have, 86.9% are currently employed, and they have seen a 42% increase in wages since enrolling in DACA. Furthermore, there is no direct evidence that Dreamers have taken jobs from legal Americans… DACA has actually improved the United States’ economy.

By repealing DACA, President Trump is robbing prosperous, successful lives from thousands of young adults who he has stereotyped into being uneducated, crime-committing immigrants. Dreamers are just as American as any naturally born citizens, and should be treated as so. 

When I was younger, one of the first “big” words I learned was objectify. When I asked what it meant, I was simply told that it meant, “when you treat a person like a thing.” To classify these hardworking people as simply “immigrants” and nothing more is wholly objectifying their existence as people and their contributions to American society. When I think about DACA I, like many of you, initially think about my own distance from the issue. What I can guarantee each student of LFHS is that, whether or not you know them by name or by face, you know someone affected by DACA directly. Don’t kid yourself into thinking the issue doesn’t affect you because LFHS isn’t as diverse as Evanston, Waukegan, or Stevenson. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that any singular life negatively altered by a nearsighted, selfish decision isn’t a big deal because it “doesn’t affect you.”

One thing about Lake Forest High School–and The Forest Scout specifically–is that we care. We care about issues. We care about decisions. We care about people. Stand up for what you believe in. Fight for the young men and women whose lives have been put into question, regardless of whether they’re in your friend group. They’re in your school–trust me–that should be enough.”