A nation historically built on immigration, the United States of America has always had an ever-changing immigration policy. Just in the past two years, according to the Migration Policy Institute, “an independent non-partisan, non-profit think tank based in Washington, D.C.,” approximately 41.4 million immigrants lived in the U.S, accounting for 13 percent of the overall U.S. population. Over the years, several policies have been implemented to encourage changes in immigration policy, including the Deferred Act for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This policy, in effect since June 2012, allows a certain number of undocumented immigrants into the United States who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.
According to the Immigration Impact, an online journal devoted to covering stories of immigrants in the U.S, “59 percent of DACA recipients reported obtaining a new job, 57 percent indicated they had received their driver’s license, and 49 percent reported opening their first bank account.”
Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, said that he believes this is a necessary policy, because, “though many communities and people around the world have welcomed refugee and migrant children, xenophobia, discrimination and exclusion pose serious threats to their lives and futures.”
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) recently published a report entitled “Uprooted,” which showed that the number of children registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has more than doubled from four million to approximately eight million child refugees. This number has increased by 77 percent between 2010 and 2015, with the rise of political unrest in Syria, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. This need for the relief forms political turmoil has been coupled with the need for proper education.
The UNHCR published a report as well, and found that, “Refugee children worldwide are five times less likely to be in school than non-refugee children.
One inevitable outcome of this policy is the riff it creates between families. Mothers and fathers are separated from their children. The Obama administration responded to this by proposing the Deferred Actions for Parents of Americans (DAPA). This immigrant policy would grant deferred action status to certain illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2010 and have children who are either American citizens or lawful permanent residents. But it has a current temporary injunction on it.
A personal stance on this policy comes from Anna Kim (senior, sociology), president of Andrew’s University’s UNICEF campus initiative.
Kim said, “As a person who is passionate about the refugee crisis and refugees’ well-being (and my opinion has nothing to do with what AU UNICEF stands for and me being the president of the club), I agree with what Anthony Lake said and I think it is important to lift the injunction that is currently on pause as soon as possible. Refugees, especially children, are suffering every second because of that, and on this issue, all I care about is the improved quality of their lives. Through this policy, refugees will be able to receive basic needs as a human being, such as shelters, clean water and foods, safety, health care, and education for both children and adults."
This year, the Andrews University UNICEF campus initiative will continue to allow students the opportunity to become involved through service projects focusing on issues from sex trafficking to the clean water crisis with a unique focus every month.
Aram Chong (senior, medical laboratory science, pre-medicine) said, “The upcoming AU UNICEF’s event that I am the most excited for is Live Below the Line. It is planned to be held on November, in which poverty is the topic of the month. The event is a simulation game that experience how people in poverty face continuous decisions in paying their bills each day. We will have different role for each people so that people can distinctly see the differences between different classes in the society.”
On Oct. 15 at 3:30 p.m., to encourage thought and discussion on October’s topic of sex trafficking, AU UNICEF campus initiative is sponsoring a viewing of a “Not My Life,” a documentary exploring international sex trafficking and contemporary slavery. The documentary will be shown in Buller Hall, Room 215.