Alarm bells rang for advocates this week after news broke that President Obama’s deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program may be in imminent danger. If DACA is rescinded, it would take away the livelihoods of 800,000 Dreamers who depend on it — young immigrants who only seek to contribute to the US and who have done nothing wrong.
But even now, in the days when DACA is still alive, ICE agents have not always respected the program nor Dreamers who have it. And in the near future, if DACA is allowed to survive in some form, ICE’s encroachments on DACA cannot be allowed to stand.
This week, Dreamer and active DACA recipient Riccy Enriquez Perdomo was detained and threatened with deportation after she went to an immigration facility to pay a bond for someone else. After a massive outcry from advocates, Riccy was freed — but the fact remains that she should never have been taken in the first place, and that ICE did not give back what they took away.
Even after Riccy was released, ICE kept her work permit, driver’s license, and Social Security card. She was put on an order of supervision and was told to report back in October. She’s not allowed to leave the state of Kentucky for more than 48 hours without permission. This is an injustice for someone who has protection currently recognized by the US government. ICE is treating Riccy like she’s on probation even though she did nothing wrong.
It’s not the first time ICE has pulled such stunts with DACA-mented Dreamers, either. In March, agents detained Daniel Ramirez for six weeks after claiming he was a gang member when he wasn’t. Daniela Vargas was picked up after she spoke out to the media about her case, and her deportation order is still pending. Juan Manuel Montes was deported in the middle of the night; ICE claims he left the US on his own. There could very well be cases of other DACA-mented Dreamers who have been deported, who were removed from the country by ICE because they weren’t able to reach advocates with their story or put up a legal fight.
It is imperative that Donald Trump keep DACA, instead of listening to the white nationalists who want to get rid of it. Rescinding the program would be one of the most awful, consequential things he’s done so far in his mess of a presidency. But while DACA lives, ICE also needs to respect the program. And that means ceasing to target the Dreamers who are, at least for now, protected.