DACA rescinded, causes disorientation

Brandt Siegfried, Online Editor

For the nine months President Donald Trump has been in office, immigration issues have received a front and center seat in the national policy debate. Ever since announcing his candidacy for president in June 2015, Trump has engaged with immigration, favoring stronger restrictions and more border security.

The Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA, is not safe from changes. DACA was established in 2012 by President Barack Obama. It effectively allows people illegally brought to the United States as children to receive pseudo-legal protection. The program defers deportation for qualifying illegal immigrants, while granting them the legal ability to work through three-year renewable work permits.

A Sept. 5 memorandum, issued by Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke at the direction of the president, rescinds the DACA program. The benefits will continue for a grace period of six months until March 2018. For those who only know the United States as their home, including Emma Wise ‘19, DACA is an important part of life.

“I’m not an illegal immigrant, I am a U.S. citizen, but I am a part of DACA,” she said. “It’s all so confusing to me. I’m not an illegal immigrant, but for some reason I am part of DACA.”

Uncertainty has been a large part of Wises’ experience with DACA, Wise said. She was born in Uzynagash, Kazakhstan, and was brought to the United States at 10 months after she was adopted by her mother. She was naturalized as a citizen after her arrival, meaning she is a U.S. citizen. The international adoption process, however, is full of complexities.

“[The whole adoption process] was in Russian, and my mom doesn’t know a lick of it,” Wise said. “It had to be translated to English, which took a lot of paper work. My birth certificate says I’m Russian, but my adoption certificate says I’m from Kazakhstan. When I was born I was Russian, and by the time I was adopted I was Kazakh.”

Paperwork inconsistencies with the nation of birth have created other issues, especially when traveling.

“We go to Canada a lot, and when we have to cross the border it takes a long time,” Wise said.

International travel is not the only thing for which Wise uses her passport. Passports can be used to prove citizenship, and she carries her card with her everywhere as a safety measure in the event she has to use it to prove her citizenship.

“I have to carry my passport around at all times,” Wise said. “People ask for it if I’m doing something and if they think I’m an illegal immigrant, they have the right to ask for my card. That’s why I have to have it. I still carry it around just in case because I don’t know what will happen. This world is crazy.”

To attempt to mitigate the confusion, Wise’s family is currently consulting an immigration lawyer. The confusion comes from DACA enrollment while concurrently possessing U.S. citizenship.

“I am part of DACA, and my mom is trying to figure out why,” Wise said. “We’ve always had a lawyer for it. [We have used] a lawyer since I was adopted, and [my mom] has called her up to see what’s going on. That’s why it’s hard to talk about; I don’t know enough details about it.”

As a member of the LT girls cross country, Wise shared some of the details of her DACA situation with Maggie King ‘19.

“She seemed very stressed about it because her mom had to take all these phone calls and spend extra time to figure out her papers,” King said. “She [told] me about how terrified she was because she didn’t want to leave and she didn’t know anyone in her native country and how awful her life would be there.”

Fear for the future is a constant concept that Wise and other beneficiaries of DACA face regularly.

“I fear what will happen because I [might] have to go back to Kazakhstan,” Wise said. “It probably [will] not happen, but it could, and it’s still a scary thing that it could. I would have to live on my own, but I don’t know any Kazakh nor Russian. I have an American accent, I look Kazakh, but I’m not going to be able to [interact in society].”

Even if faced with deportation, Wise has a positive outlook towards all possibilities.

“I’m just going to handle one problem at a time” Wise said. “There has to be a reason if I’m deported; God’s plan. I know that I have a huge family that supports me and my decisions, and I know that in a heartbeat my mom would fight with her life to come with me.”