By Gopika Nair, Editor-in-Chief
Jose Armendariz roots for the U.S. soccer team when it plays against Mexico.
“People might call me a traitor, but why would I support a country I don’t have a memory of and have never grown up in?” Armendariz said.
The Ohio Wesleyan freshman was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 2 years old. Armendariz lived in North Carolina for most of his life. After receiving a scholarship that would cover his college education as long as he attended an out-of-state, liberal arts college, Armendariz enrolled at OWU.
Now at 18, the U.S. is the only home Armendariz has known, and he is one among more than 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Armendariz received DACA protection at 14 when former President Barack Obama created the program through an executive order passed in 2012. On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump’s administration announced the decision to end DACA, making its recipients eligible for deportation.
“I was surprised, but I wasn’t in shock about it because President Trump hasn’t really been in favor of DACA,” Armendariz said.
Because of his interest in politics, Armendariz followed the news and presidential debates closely. When Trump became a presidential candidate, Armendariz said he anticipated an annulment to DACA.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting new DACA applications received after Sept. 5. A few hours after the Trump administration announced that DACA would be rescinded, Trump tweeted that Congress had six months to legalize DACA.
Armendariz said he and his family are hoping that Congress will push a legislation within six months that’ll let him and other DACA recipients stay in the country, adding that he is glad Trump delayed the process of ending DACA.
“We’re just crossing our fingers that Congress understands that we don’t really have any other home,” Armendariz said.
President Rock Jones sent a campus-wide email addressing the end of DACA. In the email, Jones said he and the other presidents of the Ohio Five colleges have sent a letter to Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), requesting they act to protect DACA students.
“[DACA students] grew up in our country, excelled in its high schools, and now stand ready to contribute to our nation,” the letter to Sen. Portman said. “Cutting short their educations through threatened deportation denies them — and us — the promise of that future.”
In addition, Jones sent an email on Sept. 11 sharing that the presidents of the Great Lakes Colleges Association schools released a letter supporting the tenets of DACA.
“An attorney will visit campus this week to be available to provide legal guidance for DACA students,” Jones said. “If DACA students lose external financial aid, we will work to provide resources to ensure that they can stay at OWU.”
Jones added that OWU would also work vigorously to support Congress’ efforts to provide a legislative solution to protect DACA students.
Juan Armando Rojas Joo, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and professor of modern foreign languages, said it’s hard to state a number as to how many DACA students are enrolled at OWU currently.
“The OWU community (students, staff and faculty members), and hopefully the Delaware community, should understand that protecting these, our ‘invisible’ Dreamers, it’s crucial, it’s essential, as it offers value to our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy Statement that recognizes and celebrates diversity,” Rojas said.
Rojas also said that he hopes Congress will be able to support those covered by DACA and possibly provide citizenship to the students who grew up in this country and arrived to the U.S. as children.
DACA recipients go through extensive criminal and background checks to maintain their status. With more pressing issues weighing on the world right now, such as the destruction left behind by two hurricanes, Armendariz said he doesn’t understand why Trump decided to rescind DACA now.
“I’m very blessed to have a scholarship that covers me, I’m not employed and I don’t have a car so I can’t lose my permit, but heart goes out to people who do have jobs and whose permits are about to expire,” he said.
Despite everything, Armendariz said that deep in his heart, he loves this country.
“There are no Mexican values in me, it’s just American values,” he said. “[The U.S.] is the only country I know and you can’t really hate a country you grew up in even if we’re passing through a tumultuous time. I still have faith in it. [Trump’s decision to end DACA] has brought both sides of the parties together.”
Joseph Mas, a Cuban-American attorney from Columbus and immigration law expert, will offer students an informative public session about DACA and meet with students individually if they so desire at 6 p.m., Sept. 27, according to Rojas.