Access Living condemns decision to discontinue DACA

Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago condemns the failure of the White House to continue the DACA program.  The move is a devastating blow, not just to immigrants that grew up in the United States, but to the entire country, which will be denied the participation, contributions, and diversity that hundreds of thousands of people offer to communities throughout America.   Furthermore, allowing DACA to expire is a failure to embrace inclusive communities, and reinforces existing biases and discrimination against immigrants and people of color.  With the expiration of the DACA program, Access Living calls on Congress to develop a new plan that ensures protections and opportunities for undocumented immigrants.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program gives around 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children (Dreamers) the opportunity to work and study in this country without the threat of deportation.  Recipients registered with the United States, submitted to deep background checks, and are engaging with their communities.  According to a letter from "Leaders of American Industry," the US economy would lose $460 Billion in the National Gross Domestic Product without the Dreamers.

Dreamers include Alberto, a 25-year old immigrant from southern Mexico who came to the United States with his mother and father when he was three years old.  He now lives in Chicago with his parents, his sisters and his brother.  Of his siblings, Alberto is the only one with DACA status. Through DACA, Alberto would have a better chance to receive disability supports.  Alberto did seasonal work for Amazon between January and April of 2014.  Since then, it has been difficult to secure employment with the supports to accommodate his disability. In the last year, Alberto dedicated his efforts to Cambiando Vidas, a community organizing group at Access Living that advocates for the rights of Latinos with disabilities.  As a Cambiando Vidas member, Alberto has fought to maintain DACA for himself and others, and has fought to preserve Sanctuary City status in Chicago.  

"As an undocumented immigrant, especially as an undocumented immigrant with disability, it can be unsafe to speak out," said Michelle Garcia, Community Organizer for Cambiando Vidas said.  "But Alberto has spoken out to preserve the protections of DACA, and to improve the services so that immigrants with disabilities get the supports they need to be successful in education, in employment, and in their communities."      

"DACA is critical for me and for many others," Alberto said.  "With it, thousands of immigrants can be with their families and have the opportunity to work, and to contribute to their communities."

Established in 1980, Access Living is a non-profit, Chicago-based disability rights and service organization that provides individualized, peer-based services for people with disabilities.  For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199(voice),
garnold@accessliving.org, 312-640-2102(TTY).