Trump’s DACA decision prompts local debate


As principal of Seymour High School, Greg Prange knows some of his students have bigger concerns than what grade they might get on a test or how they will perform in the marching band.

He knows some of those students are worried about being deported from the U.S. because they were brought here illegally by their parents who wanted them to have a better life.

President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to rescind the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy put into place by the President Barack Obama’s administration in 2012 has left many people in fear.

Other people, who support Trump’s action, say Obama had no legal authority to change the immigration law in the first place.

The policy allowed illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. It did not grant them citizenship.

Trump’s decision won’t go into effect for another six months, giving Congress time to work out a solution for the more than 800,000 people in America, dubbed “dreamers,” who qualified for DACA.

“I have students and families who are very worried about their future,” Prange said. “We are supposed to be a melting pot. Too bad the land of the free and the home of the brave doesn’t apply to everyone.”

Public schools like Seymour High School do not question where a student was born and if they are here legally in order to enroll and educate them.

“Fortunately, we do not discriminate against students who come to us,” Prange said.

Alondra Hernandez, 20, was just 3 years old when she came to the U.S. in 2000 with her older sister and her mother. Her father had been in the country for three years prior to their arrival.

She started her education in Seymour and graduated from Seymour High School in 2015. She now has two jobs, one working for the Seymour school system as a classroom assistant and the other at a local agribusiness.

“Seymour has been my only home. I really haven’t even traveled outside of the Midwest and have no memories of Mexico, just stories and pictures,” she said.

Growing up in her situation wasn’t easy, and even at a young age, Hernandez lived in fear, she said.

“It’s hard on a family that’s undocumented because since I was young, I knew that my parents could get in trouble just for working and trying to provide for us,” she said. “So I grew up with a constant fear and worry for my parents.”

Because she grew up speaking English though, she learned to help and protect her family.

“The only thing that made me feel a little better was that I spoke English better than them and I could make sure they’d never get taken advantage of,” she said.

When DACA was implemented, Hernandez had just finished her freshman year in high school. What DACA gave her was hope and opportunity.

“It gave me the ability to legally work and what I was most excited about — to get my (driver’s) license,” she said.

Now, she feels as if that hope and opportunity are being taken away from her and her family.

“After learning about the decision yesterday (Tuesday), I was truly heartbroken,” she said. “Seymour is the only home I know. I grew up with some of the same people I still talk to and really I have no plans of moving.

“(Trump’s) decision made me feel like I have to go back to living with constant worry and fear, and not just for my parents anymore, but for me and my sister as well,” she said.

Many local residents disagree with Trump’s efforts to rescind DACA and stand in support of families like Alondra’s.

Georgiann Coons of Seymour said she thinks Trump should focus on other, more important, actions that bring the country together.

“Repeal of DACA does nothing to protect our borders, create jobs or lessen crime,” she said. “It’s a mean-spirited jab at our last president that doesn’t affect Obama one smidge. It does, however, affect children and young adults who in every single way, except legal papers, function as Americans. Further, this repeal makes us look cruel in the eyes of the world, and I know that we are not. Not all of us, anyway.”

Terence Tracy of Seymour said he doesn’t agree with all laws, but as a U.S. citizen, he knows he must abide by them to not face any consequences for violating them.

“I don’t know if DACA violates our current laws or not, but if so, then what’s the problem? If we have a law that isn’t enforced, then does that law really exist? This is not how an orderly society should be run,” he said.

Instead of pointing fingers and taking the law into their own hands, Tracy said people need to do something to help make change.

“Vigilante justice never helps. Work on changing laws if you don’t like them, not skirting them,” he said.

Cindy Galbraith of Seymour said she has mixed feelings on the subject, but said she believes illegal immigration goes against the Constitution.

“I have compassion for these young adults,” she said of the “dreamers.” “But what a complicated mess we weave when we decide we can skirt the laws of our constitution. My hope is that these illegal immigrants that want to stay here will be able to become legal citizens. My hope is that this action by our president will force our congress to change laws that need changed.”

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