Recently there has been no shortage of uncertainty for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, as well as the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, living in the U.S. With a President that has insulted us, a justice system that criminalizes us and a country that doesn’t know what to do with us, the only thing that has remained constant for undocumented people like me is the fear that comes with living in a country that could, on a whim, tear your family apart.

But, in spite of this turbulent situation, now is the time to make demands beyond DACA.

DACA recipients are in a unique position where they must fear losing the protections they have been fortunate enough to win through the hard work of the immigrant’s rights movement.

However, in advocating for the many DACA recipients that exist, we must make sure to not throw any other undocumented people under the bus. As a DACA recipient, I know firsthand how ineffective DACA is at properly addressing the situation where undocumented families are torn apart, loved ones are deported and people are criminalized.

While my mother is undocumented and criminalized for doing her best to raise me and my siblings, the crisis continues. While my brother is undocumented and criminalized for not fitting the “Dreamer” narrative, the crisis continues.

Every single undocumented person living in the U.S. is just that, a person. We can not continue to deny them their humanity as a country. We can not continue to make their existence a crime.

What we need now is strong advocacy for every single undocumented immigrant, not just those who are seen as profitable by those who deny personhood to undocumented folks that don’t fit the “Dreamer” narrative.

The recent announcements surrounding the fate of DACA serve as a reminder that impermanent and easily reversible progress that is denied to our most marginalized people isn’t enough. We need to demand real change that can’t be undone by a presidential whim. We need to protect our undocumented people and DACA simply isn’t enough.

As new proposals for legislation to address the end of DACA continue to come in, we must make sure not to repeat the mistakes we’ve witnessed in the past. We can not allow the conversation to be dominated by a failed “Dreamer” narrative that excludes some of our most vulnerable populations. We can not accept temporary band-aid solutions that will leave us in a constant state of fear that we might lose all that we’ve worked for. We need real lasting protections for every single undocumented person living in this country.

Any legislation that seeks to give us DACA-like protections, but further criminalizes undocumented people or increases the enforcement powers of ICE is harmful to undocumented people and we must speak out against it.

It is thanks to the protests, marches and advocacy of undocumented people that DACA exists in the first place. But many of those same undocumented people, the people who helped make DACA happen in the first place, have found themselves left behind as those protections that they fought for are handed out to only a small population.

We must ensure that the protections we fight for are for every undocumented person living in this country.

It is a very possibility that the worst case scenario will become a reality. With a Republican majority in in the legislature that have espoused an anti-immigrant stance and supported an anti-immigrant President, the possibility of being unable to pass any meaningful legislation on this issue isn’t a possibility we can ignore.

If a legislative solution fails to materialize before the deadline of six months given to us by President Trump we might begin to see him turn the massive deportation machine he inherited from President Obama on DACA recipients.

The future of undocumented people is still uncertain in this country. A bipartisan solution within the 6-month period our President has given us is a real possibility, but we must make sure it is the right one for all of the undocumented people living in this country. Justice isn’t something that you can compromise on and this is a clear example of that. There is no justice in separating mothers from their children and tearing families apart.

Miguel Bibanco (he/him/his) on Twitter
Miguel Bibanco (he/him/his)
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