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When immigration policies clash with our sense of justice

To be a so-called “Dreamer” is to be an undocumented immigrant who grew up in the United States after entering the United States illegally as a child. These cases happen when parents come into the United States without the proper documentation to enter legally with their children.

The undocumented status of “Dreamers” is a particularly poignant tragedy because, culturally, most of these individuals are Americans. Nevertheless, they are not legal citizens of the country, and technically under the law, they are not legally allowed to be here.

A blameless situation

Even though it was not the choice of Dreamers to enter the United States unlawfully, they are caught in a kind of legal limbo that puts them under the constant risk of deportation. Under the last presidential administration, Dreamers were allowed temporary amnesty. Former President Barack Obama instituted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The law allowed them to obtain work permits and set a temporary moratorium on deportation for adults who entered the United States as minors unlawfully in the past so long as they obeyed the law.

During the current presidential administration, however, the enforcement of immigration laws has become stricter and more ‘by the book.’ In addition, there have been instances in which Dreamers have been subjected to the unlawful revocation of their DACA status because of unproven accusations regarding minor legal offenses.

Again, it’s important to note that individuals receiving DACA protection are in a completely blameless situation. Dreamers didn’t intend to put themselves in lthis precarious position when they entered into the United States as children with their parents.

Can justice be found for Dreamers?

Dreamers have rights, just like every other person who finds him or herself in the United States — regardless of how he or she arrived. While it’s true that people with full citizenship and/or legal residency status have more rights than those without such status, the U.S. Constitution protects Dreamers and undocumented immigrants too.

For example, Dreamers have “the right to remain silent” and they do not have to volunteer any information to immigration officials. Furthermore, they have the right to legal representation and they can demand to speak with their lawyer before answering any questions for police.

If you are concerned about your residency status in the United States and you want to protect yourself against the threat of deportation, make sure that you fully understand your legal rights as a Dreamer or undocumented immigrant.