From the Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Committee on Domestic Fair Trade
Five years ago, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was initiated as a temporary measure to protect individuals who came to this country as children from deportation. DACA allows recipients to attend school and apply for employment authorization. It has provided hard-working young people and their families with a measure of stability in lieu of actual reform to the immigration system.
Since 2012 when DACA took effect, recipients’ hourly wages increased by 42 percent. Six percent started their own business (compared to a national average of 3.1 percent), 21 percent purchased their first car, 12 percent purchased their first home, and 90 percent received their driver’s license or a state identification card. These young people are a critical part of our country’s social and economic fabric, particularly in rural areas.
The Trump administration’s decision to halt additional DACA enrollments and give Congress six months to come up with another solution makes the immediate future of these young people uncertain and adds unbearable pressure to the fears that already make daily life difficult for their undocumented parents.
Nearly 800,000 young people fear losing everything they have worked for. Almost 70 percent came to this country at the age of 10 or younger. Today, the average DACA recipient is 22 years old, employed, and in pursuit of higher education.
After agreeing with Democratic leaders to craft a “deal” to continue DACA, the Trump administration has issued a list of priorities that would essentially block any deal Democrats could accept. Republican priorities include, among other demands, immediate detention for anyone crossing the border and requesting asylum, hiring 10,000 more ICE agents, 300 more immigrant judges and 1000 more immigration lawyers, accelerating wall construction along the border, cracking down on sanctuary cities, cutting down on the number of legal immigrants
allowed each year, and instituting mandatory E-verify for all hiring.
It is cruel and unjust to take away the opportunity to learn, earn, and live without constant fear of deportation. It is also counterproductive and harmful to the country as a whole.
We call on Congress to act quickly on its responsibility to stand opposed to any federal action that would rescind DACA or result in additional restrictions that would act as barriers to the continued contributions of these young immigrants and their families to rural communities. We recognize that our fight goes beyond DACA, that no one deserves to live in fear of deportation, that immigrants have always been and will continue to be a lifeblood of this country, and we will not rest until there is fair and comprehensive immigration reform for all.
We also urge all who care about a sustainable food system to hold themselves personally accountable for taking this issue on in their communities, show solidarity with undocumented immigrants, many of whom come from backgrounds of organic agriculture in their own countries of origin, and to become involved in and supportive of local organizations and networks committed to protecting and defending immigrants from harassment and deportation and in empowering them to defend their rights and dignity as human beings (for example: Sanctuary In the Streets sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Vermont Migrant Justice, Alianza Agricola in central New York, Secure and Just Communities (SURJ in Rochester, NY).
For resources see National Sanctuary Movement http//www.sanctuarynotdeporation.org/
Voces de la Frontera: http://vdlf.org/campaigns/new sanctuary movement/