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Killing DACA is a ‘violent white supremacist priority’


Nov. 9, 2016, was a day when many people in the United States felt stunned and lost. I was one of those people, but my circumstances were a bit different. As a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, my future and my family’s seemed like a dark cloud of escalated deportations and hopelessness as we imagined everything we had fought so hard for being taken away.

Belen Sisa

Belen Sisa

Normally, I am a fighter, an optimist, someone who never backs down. I would be lying, however, if I said the rise of the person some call president hadn’t left me defeated, weak, unsafe. I wondered how we, as a community, could strategically fight for our lives when the people in power lacked the empathy and a sense of justice and value in the lives of undocumented immigrants and people of color to have human rights. This was a game changer, leaving us to question everything we knew. A very stark difference from 2012 when I was beginning to get involved and finally feeling empowered by other brave undocumented youth.

Days after the election I found myself looking around at people, wondering if they saw such little value in my community that they thought it was OK to gamble away our futures by voting for a person like Donald Trump.

With tears in my eyes and the heavy duty I had to those who felt scared, I had to pick myself up with the help of my peers who were feeling the same, and together we vowed to continue fighting for our rights, because it was the only choice we had. In January 2017, we founded the organization Undocumented Students for Education Equity at Arizona State University. Our mission is to fight for equitable access to education, educational resources and work to bring solidarity among students and allies to issues impacting the undocumented community in and outside of ASU.

As DACA recipients in Arizona we face twofold the fear and anxiety due to not only enduring attacks from the federal government, but our local elected officials, like Governor Doug Ducey who continues to stay silent in protecting our rights and our families. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich who to this very moment continues his personal agenda to raise tuition rates for undocumented students to make education unattainable, in addition to continuing a case to eliminate our right to obtain driver’s licenses in Arizona. They have made it very clear time and time again – they do not have our backs. But if there is one thing that history has shown is that our resilience will always prevail.

Now, seven months since the inauguration and after the events of Charlottesville, the fate of DACA will be the first major policy test of the Trump administration. Trump said he would deal with undocumented youth “with heart,” but that is yet to be shown as he threatened to take DACA away the moment he took office on inauguration day and now with rumors of his administration wanting to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip for deporting our families. At the same time having his white supremacist White House aides pressuring him to end the DACA program and leaving 800,000 undocumented youth even more vulnerable to being chased down by ICE agents, locked in immigrant detention centers and deported. Killing DACA is a violent white supremacist priority.

No matter what happens in the next few months or the next few days, we will not go back into the shadows. We fought to make DACA happen and we will continue to fight like hell to protect it and our families. We will survive this administration, because our love for our people is stronger than anyone’s hate.

Belen Sisa studies political science and history at Arizona State University School of Politics and Global Studies.


The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.


  1. What “rights” do you refer to, Ms. Sisa? The right to force someone else to pay for your education? That’s a new one on me. Despite your emotional response to the presidential election, it wasn’t all about you or others whose parents entered the country illegally. The state attorney general doesn’t have a personal agenda to ruin your life, he’s doing the job he was hired by the people of Arizona to do–enforce the law as written by the legislature.

    If you want to blame someone, blame the legislators at both the state and federal levels who wrote the laws that you find so unfair. The President’s job is to enforce the laws passed by Congress. The Governor’s job is to enforce the laws passed by the state legislature.

    The problems with immigration law are corrected by changing the law, not by ignoring it.

  2. I am totally sympathetic to the plight of Dreamers and I want to see a legal, permanent legislative fix to this problem.

    But, if Ms. Sisa is a serious student of political science , perhaps her anger is misplaced. She might do well to remember that President Obama’s “Si si puede” 200 campaign promised to give priority attention to immigration reform. At the time of his election, he and his party controlled the levers of power in Washington , including a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But he chose not to address immigration and only (after repeated, public assertions that he lacked the authority to do so) promulgated the extra-legal DACA program as a cynical reelection ploy in 2012.

  3. Ending DACA is part of the misguided agenda of extremist groups without consideration to facts or the real benefits of the program.
    DACA individuals are productive and engaged, just as Ms. Sisa.
    Cato Institute estimates that ending DACA could cost nearly $280 billion in lost tax revenue over the next decade. The impact of taking 800,000 individuals AND their families out of the economy is unthinkable.
    The social impact of leaving American citizens, sons and daughters of DACA parents, in forced poverty, horrific.
    DACA individuals are part of our communities, our churches, our workplaces, and clubs. Our lives are graced with their fighting spirit and can-do attitude.
    DACA individuals have a high rate of business creation, higher than the regular citizen population.
    Instead of fighting the inevitable, we need to make sure they are integrated as soon as possible to our society with all the benefits, including a path to citizenship.
    It is time to be leaders in supporting young deserving DACA DREAMers to reach their goals.

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