For Wilder nursing student, Trump policy on DACA brings uncertainty
By Olivia Weitz, Originally pubilshed in the Idaho Press-Tribune. Reposted with permission.
[Editor's note: The subject of this story has participated in United Methodist Congregations. When contacted about this story she shared, "I would just like to add that the reason I am the woman I am today is thanks to the UMC. They have nurtured me and taught me how to be courageous and overall to always put God first in everything we do. The UMC has taught me to carry my cross like Jesus Christ did. I don't care what happens to me because I know God is with me. But I do care about the innocent people that are scared and are struggling to find God in all this."]
Members of Idaho’s congressional delegation could not be reached on Friday to comment on whether they support the BRIDGE Act, and so far House and Senate leadership have yet to signal support for the measure.
|But the proposal has earned the backing of Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., who represents a district in eastern Washington heavily reliant on agriculture.
“These children and young adults deserve stability here in the U.S. while Congress comes together on long-term immigration reform to provide a permanent solution for them, secure our borders, and build a reasonable and accessible immigration system going forward,” Newhouse wrote in a press release.
Brian Walsh, a Republican consultant working with FWD.us, said DACA registrants tend to be better educated, are working in higher paid jobs and have avoided legal troubles. He said 6 percent of DACA registrants own businesses or work in professions like nursing or teaching.
“With a stroke of a pen (eliminating DACA), ... would not just on a moral level but on an economic level, have huge consequences,” Walsh said in an interview Friday. “These are people who were brought here, not of their own doing, and they’ve been living in this country. The idea that we would punish them ... and send them back to a country they don’t know isn’t right.”
Research by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, determined that the average DACA registrant is similar in many ways to Rueda, educated, hard working and contributing to the economy and the community around them. More specifically, the research by Cato showed the average DACA beneficiary is 22 years old and makes $17 per hour. Walsh said 6 percent of DACA registrants own their own businesses, many of which employ native Americans.
Comparing recipients to an immigration program, the H-1B visa program, Cato researcher estimates that deporting 750,000 DACA recipients would cost the federal government $60 billion, leading to a reduction of $280 billion in economic growth over the next 10 years.
But those hoping the Trump administration will take a harder line on immigration are urging Republicans not to support the BRIDGE Act.
In an interview in the Washington Post last month, Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for curbing all forms of immigration, said he worries the legislation will lead to an amnesty of sorts for DACA beneficiaries.
“It would be just formalizing the Obama’s amnesty for those individuals without anything else in return,” said Krikorian.
For her part, Rueda said she wanted to speak publicly about her situation in hopes of increasing awareness and showing Idahoans the potential consequences of immigration reform policy. She wants the public to understand how ending a program like DACA could impact her, her family and the dreams she holds for her future in this country.
Rueda is using her DACA status to pursue a career in nursing, first here at the College of Western Idaho. In May, she’ll find out whether she’s been awarded a DREAMERS scholarship, which would provide her with $75,000 toward a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree at Eastern Oregon University.
Rueda said she’s hopeful her family, which includes two younger siblings who were born in the United States, will be able to stay in Wilder and that one day she will become a nurse, a career she was motivated to pursue after seeing her mother suffer from migraines and sclerosis. Her father works in the local dairy industry and her mother operates a taco stand in Wilder.
“Overall, always seeing her suffer when I was younger always hurt me,” Rueda said of her mother. “I wanted to help her in any way I could.”