A highly informed panel, specifically chosen by members of Olivet’s Social Justice Club and sponsored by Dr. Bishop, gathered to speak on Thursday night on the topic of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). President Avery Gutwein and Vice President Devin Kaikland hosted the first meeting of the semester on October 19, at 7:00 p.m. in Wisner Auditorium and opened by saying, “This is an educational event. We don’t want it to be a debate.”
As DACA shuts down, Democrats race to gain Republican support on bills, such as The RAC Act and The DREAM Act. In March of 2018, the final decision will be reached on whether or not thousands of people are going to be deported. In the meantime, people like panel member Marcia L. Brown-Medina, coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Services in Kankakee, do everything in their power to help those living in uncertainty.
Brown-Medina works to help families set up deportation planning and emergency plans. “It is heart wrenching to see families go through this,” Brown-Medina expresses. “How do you tell a kid, ‘Have a dream, but oh yeah, don’t have a dream because you don’t have the funds’?”
The main issue politicians are looking at with DACA is how it came to be. Some believe President Obama overstepped his presidential bounds in using an executive order to override the lack of votes and pass DACA.
“This is an issue we have to be careful with because it can easily and quickly divide us,” panel member Mark Mountain, Director of Registration Services at Olivet said.
“With media all around us, we need to be conscious of the media, and see if it’s actually true,” Brown-Medina said, who shares she has spent the majority of her career “de-bunking myths about immigrants.”
Among the panel, Arizbeth Pastenes, former Olivet student, faces this issue in a very personal way. Pastenes fears for her cousin from Nicaragua, who came to America on her own, wanting to be a veterinarian. Pastenes said “she is heartbroken because she has worked so hard in school.”
If a solution isn’t passed in Trump’s six-month deadline before DACA ends, thousands of families will be directly affected, as will the U.S population and economy. According to American Progress.org, 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies (Walmart, Apple, General Motors, Amazon, etc.) employ DACA recipients, accounting for $2.8 trillion every year.
With two thirds of DACA recipients at the age of 25 and under, “most of these people are in school right now,” Poli-Sci club president and panel memeber, Cailey Myers said.
Pastenes remembers watching the news when hearing for the first time what was happening. A young man, crying on TV, shared that he would now have to go back to a country that he knows nothing about, leaving his life here, against his will. “People build lives here just as you and I do, but then are shipped back,” Pastenes said.
If you know any more information on the DACA act or if you or loved ones are being affected by it, please feel free to comment below. We welcome your feedback.
Cover Photo by Shania Hall