As a white person born a citizen of the United States, I move through my life without fear that my rights, my family, or my life will be taken away from me as a result of white nationalist policies that have been central to the nation that has occupied this land for 400 years. I am no more worthy of these privileges and a sense of safety than anyone else whose family makes their home here. The Supreme Court’s decision last month to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides a small amount of relief for the fear that 15,000 of my fellow Coloradans face each and every day living in this country without permanent protection and a pathway to citizenship. It’s temporary, it’s limited, and it’s not enough, and it’s also a victory worth celebrating.
When the Obama administration created the DACA program, it opened up important opportunities for Dreamers--opportunities already available to people like me with legal status. It established protections for program recipients, who came to the US as children, while removing some barriers to employment, higher education, and other ways of participating more freely in our society. Dreamers are my friends, neighbors, colleagues, and everyday people--people who deserve rights and protections and to be seen as essential to the fabric of our society, because they are.
DACA is one, small--albeit important--policy that the federal government enacted to offer protections to a fraction of immigrants living in this country. However, it did nothing to create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients or the 10 million other immigrants without documentation who came to this country looking for a better life. Instead, the current administration continues to push for policies like the travel ban and public charge, which have already caused long-term harm to all communities in Colorado and across the country. They’re now seeking to end asylum almost completely. This change would further jeopardize the lives of people fleeing violence and hardship in their home countries and is counter to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Federal and state institutions are being wielded as a weapon against immigrants--especially those whose black and brown bodies make them targets of racist policing, putting them into the detention and deportation pipeline. Center for Health Progress joins the ACLU of Colorado, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, and other organizations leading this work in Colorado to call on Governor Polis to take immediate action. Colorado must create a legal defense fund to represent those in detention or deportation proceedings, ensure ICE cannot use Colorado’s resources and data to find and deport people, and prohibit local and state agencies from acting in complicity with federal immigration authorities to persecute immigrants.
While the recent DACA ruling is certainly good news, we have a long way to go before everyone is able to live without fear and take care of themselves and their families. We need to act with urgency and follow the leadership of immigrants most impacted by harmful laws and policies. One small action we can take is to demand the Senate to pass both the HEROES Act, to include immigrants in the next relief package, and the HEAL Act, to improve access to health care for millions of immigrants. Together, we can build a new reality in which we are all safe, secure, and thriving.