Monica Amador Chacon isn’t quite sure what’s next. Chacon is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipient living in Camden. She wonders if President Trump understands her plight.
With the president backing policies that favor the removal of undocumented immigrants, and making comments that some say are bigoted, many local “Dreamers” wonder what the future holds under a Trump presidency.
“I honestly don’t know how to feel. I am someone who wasn’t born here, but if you met me, you would’ve thought I was,” said Chacon. “To think that I will someday lose [DACA] scares me. I love my birth country and my heritage. I love this country the same.”
The DACA program staved off deportation for 800,000 undocumented immigrants, including Chacon, who came to the United States as a child.
Last fall, Trump argued that then-President Barack Obama had exceeded his executive powers when he created the program. Trump gave lawmakers until March 5, 2018, to send him legislation to renew the program.
Recently, two federal judges have made Trump’s deadline temporarily moot. They’ve issued injunctions ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA in place while courts consider legal challenges to Trump’s termination of the program.
What to do about these young people has caused a political stalemate. They were not born here, but they were raised here. They are not citizens, but should they be? If so, how so?
Chacon was brought to the U.S. at 6 months old by her mother. She is now worried that her life and fears are invisible to those debating the issue.
“I am not afraid of being Hispanic. I am afraid that one day I won’t come back home to my family and go back ‘home’ to a place I don’t remember,” she said. “I am afraid \[Trump\] will do things that will break this country apart and make everyone else as racist as he is now that we’ve moved so far, but I am not afraid of him.”
This fear isn’t just felt by Dreamers and Hispanics. Many young people of color say Trump’s pattern of humiliating minorities is at its root. As hate crimes increased nationally in 2016 when Trump was on the campaign trail, and then rose higher after his election, researchers have argued that a “Trump effect” has caused prejudice incidents to spike.
In Trump’s targeting of Muslim countries through his since stricken-travel ban, and through crude comments on Third-World countries and calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” many young people view the president as Islamophobic and xenophobic.
Aliiyah Demby is an African American Muslim who has experienced racism and prejudice about her religion. She recounted an incident where she went to a Philadelphia theater with family and friends and experienced something that left her scared.
”We came with my mother and her other Muslim friends. We were going to watch a movie, but before that, we went to the bathroom. When we went there, there was, well, a Caucasian woman who gave us a dirty look,” she recalled, noting this occurred two years ago.
“We simply ignored her since we’re so used to it, but she proceeded to verbally attack my mom’s friend. This woman told her, ‘Take that scarf off.’ That’s not everything she said, but it’s so ignorant what she said. I don’t want to even think about it anymore.”
Chacon questions what Trump’s stances say about the country’s progress, or lack thereof.
”I feel as though he brought us back in time,” said Chacon. “Immigrants, women, the LGBT community, Muslims, African Americans, Americans overall will continue marching.”