It seems fitting that for my first article I tell you about myself and where I’m from – although, I wouldn’t describe it the way our current president has. He would say I’m from a “sh-thole” country.
El Salvador is a small country — slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey — and is located in Central America. Other countries sharing its description include Haiti and most of Africa. President Trump said he would rather have immigrants from countries like Norway instead of the aforementioned. The comments made by him are disheartening because they connote that not only are the countries themselves looked down upon, but the people from them are seen as undesirable. This isn’t surprising to me. Before he was elected, I believed President Trump was racist to some degree, and his statements now further support my belief. Since I had this previous perception, his words don’t affect me. What does affect me is the immigration legislation he and his administration are supporting.
In a speech given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Sept. 5 of last year, he announced that the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program – which according to The Washington Post, affects 690,000 immigrants including myself – was being rescinded. Once it was announced that the program was to be rescinded, it gave anyone whose status expires before March 5 of this year the chance to renew it. Mine expires March 29.
However, a federal judge in California issued an injunction to restart the program, which means many are now rushing to send applications for renewal before the program is shut down again. These applications have a $495 fee, and depending on the attorney filling out the application, it could cost even more. In my case, the cost of sending in the application would be $945. Even if applications are sent now, many may still lose their status depending on how fast U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is able to process the application. The Department of Justice announced on Jan. 16 that it will ask the Supreme Court to review the ruling made by the California judge.
The fate of DACA still lies in the hands of Congress. The government shutdown this week was largely due to conflicting ideas of what to do about DACA. Democrats filibustered a bill to extend government funding because a promised deal over DACA never came to fruition. The shutdown ended because Republican Senate leaders agreed to the Democrats’ demand to hold a vote action on immigration policy. This vote is set to take place on Feb. 8, but there is nothing in the policy that includes any protection for the DACA recipients, nor about carrying out said vote on the issue.
Along with DACA, other immigration policies which have been affected include terminating TPS (temporary protected status) for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua. TPS individuals are not removable from the United States, can obtain employment authorization documents and may be granted travel authorization, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. This termination would not only directly affect the recipients but would affect their families and the countries as well, as many of the recipients send money back to their families. Two percent of El Salvador’s GDP consists of the money sent back to El Salvador. On Wednesday, Politico reported that the NAACP is suing the Department of Homeland Security because they argue that these actions are racially motivated.
With all of these programs directly affecting me and the country that I am from, I give very little weight to the words of a man who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. To someone that I will most likely never meet, nor would I have the desire to, and who seems so unfit for office that not only was his physical health questioned, but also his mental health. What I care about are the decisions being made by the entire government – decisions that could very well make it possible for me to be sent back to El Salvador, a country I am foreign to. Despite being born there, it is not my home. Although I may not be wanted here by some, the United States is my home, flaws and all.