Deferred Action, Immigration, and Social Work: What Should Social Workers Know?
Immigration and immigration policy is a topic of longstanding interest, and it is more critical now than ever. The discussions surrounding this topic have taken all angles: who should have the right to migrate, how immigration should be regulated, how immigrants should contribute to the economy, or what political rights should immigrants have. The heated debates on immigration have engaged head-on with issues like national identity, economic equity, wealth distribution, and the allocation of power. As these political contents intensify, immigrants increasingly become vulnerable to hostile immigration policies, particularly the undocumented immigrants, who have sometimes been called “illegal immigrants”. In her article, Deferred Action, Immigration, and Social Work: What Should Social Workers Know? (2014), Hardina paints a vivid picture of the plight of the undocumented immigrants and comprehensively discusses how this population can benefit from DACA- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival.
Hardina begins by illustrating what immigrant youth go through in the United States. While these individuals, or their parents, arrive in the country to seek for economic stability or other needs like safety, they not only deal with the culture shock challenge but they also live in constant fear of deportation and experience discrimination, and poverty. This is true because we have seen how minority groups like African-Americans, Latinos, or Asians struggle to make a decent living in the US. The real picture of these groups has been portrayed well by the media including news channels, films, and TV shows where they are portrayed as poor, doing menial jobs, or uneducated. Undocumented immigrants, Hardina says, do not qualify for most of public welfare and healthcare services except for emergency room services. However, while some undocumented families may qualify for some benefits because of their citizen children, they may not apply because of fear of deportation. Even though the law assures immigrants of privacy of their information, there have been cases where law enforcers have used the information to identify and deport individuals. The immigrants have limited options of employment, cannot drive a car, and are subjected to low wages. Some states prohibit college enrolment for students who are undocumented, which negates the youth’s academic and career prospects. There are also excessive restrictions on public tuition and other loans assistance for undocumented students. As a result, the students are forced to fend for themselves, spending most of their time away from books.
DACA is a program that was implemented by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012 (Hardina, 2012). Since the vast majority of the immigrants’ children are born in the U.S. while others were brought at a tender age, DACA was established to enable them to live and work temporary in the country. DACA eligibility criteria include those immigrants who went to the U.S. before the age of 16 and are under the age of 31. Also, those individuals who have continuously resided in the country from 15 June, 2007 to the time of application qualify for DACA. There are other requirements for qualification of the program, and it is important for social workers to have this knowledge since their primary role is to ensure such disadvantaged individuals get access to such opportunities that can improve their lives.
Hardina’s work, undoubtedly, implies that immigrants sail in a dangerous sea of seething waves. It should be known that attaining an American visa is an uphill climb. Some immigrants also fail to renew their visas due to financial challenges. Stigmatizing this group of people and subjecting them to harsh policies is cruel. The article provides an insightful guide for social workers and portrays the author’s passion to improve the lives of the immigrants.
Hardina, D. (2014). Deferred action, immigration, and social work: What should social workers know? The Journal of Policy Practice, 13(1), 30-44, retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15588742.2013.855696