Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals tenuously prolonged

Originally Appeared in : 9802-1/18/18

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the DACA renewal program in September 2017 placing about 800,000 people collectively referred to as Dreamers in jeopardy of deportation.


The tenuous immigration status of the Dreamers received a reprieve January 13 when a federal court order ensured that “the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.”


Emmanuel Diaz is one of the 40,000 Dreamers living in Georgia. He was two years old when his parents immigrated to the U.S. 

Quick Timeline of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

  • In 2014 President Barack Obama implemented DACA by executive order in response to a ten-year struggle to pass a legislative solution known as the Dream Act (Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors Act).  The bill was first introduced in August 2001, by United States Senators Dick Durbin (D- Illinois) and Orrin Hatch (R- Utah), but has failed to pass on numerous occasions
  • By June 2016, over 1.4 million people, brought to the United States as children, applied for the DACA deportation protection and Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) during the four-year window afforded by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Act (DACA) enacted in 2014.  
  • There are currently 800,000 individuals registered in the DACA program and eligible for deferment renewal.


“We did not come through the normal procedure,” Diaz said. He works two jobs in Savannah while pursuing a degree in business management from Armstrong/Georgia Southern University.


As a non-citizen he has no vote and no real voice in the discussion.


The Church is involved in DACA and the whole immigration issue Father Pablo Migone, chancellor of the Diocese of Savannah, said  “because the church is an advocate for those who don’t have a voice in society.” 


The Church recognizes the human dignity of every person, “With DACA the Church is concerned that the rights of the immigrants are not being respected as human beings,” Migone said. “The Church speaks up for injustices present in society.”


“My parents left their home in Mexico and brought us to America for the promise it held,” Diaz said.


“We met many kind people who were not focused on our immigration status and they were more focused on us as individuals and that we wanted to prosper." His parents found work in agriculture on the farms in south Georgia where hard work was appreciated and valued. Before he was old enough to attend school Diaz recalled spending time in the tobacco fields or pecan orchards playing with other immigrant children as their mothers worked.


Diaz grew up with his expectations matured in the American experience. Like all DACA recipients, he has lived the life of a law-abiding citizen, attended school, gone to work and paid taxes. Any violation of law places him at risk of deportation. 


“Going back to Judaism and Christianity there has always been a call to welcome the stranger, to welcome the foreigner,” Migone said. “The Holy Family, with Jesus as a little baby, experienced that living in a foreign land.” 


When the church speaks to immigration, it is not to be involved in politics but, “because there is a faith element to this issue,” Migone continued. 


In an open letter dated December 12 Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv.; Bishop of Savannah wrote, “Take a few moments to write, call, or e-mail your elected officials to express your support for pending legislation that will resolve the status of these DACA protected young men and women. I have already done so.”


“We need a permanent solution,” Diaz said. “We need people to listen to us – we need people to support us because we cannot vote. We need to work together with those groups supporting us like the church who always has our backs and our hearts. We need to do this together.”


Diaz is a member of the Savannah Undocumented Youth Alliance (SUYA) and may be reached at

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