Congressman Chris Collins announced that he would be co-sponsoring the Recognizing America’s Children Act. The RAC Act is one of multiple congressional bills that was proposed in reaction to President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The RAC Act would provide Dreamers with a pathway toward legal residency, according to a phone interview with Collins’ Communications Director Sarah Minkel. Although it would address some undocumented residents, the RAC Act would not be a comprehensive immigration plan, according to Minkel.
“People have to be enrolled in school, serving in the Armed Forces, or have a full-time job [in order to qualify for conditional status],” Minkel said. “Then they’ll be able to reapply for another five-year status, which then could lead to permanent legalization as long as they meet those standards.”
The standards also include maintaining a clean criminal record.
International relations major sophomore Alex Findeis expressed concern at what he saw as another temporary measure.
“The whole DACA program to begin with was fairly reactionary,” Findeis said. “It was temporary, it was circumnavigating Congress, and it really didn’t do enough. It was certainly helpful for 800,000 people, but any immigration policy that acts within the nation state system is inevitably going to have conflict within itself.”
President of Geneseo College Republicans junior Josh Espinosa was happy to see the issue of constitutionality addressed. Espinosa argued that much of Republican opposition to DACA was due to the perception that it was an instance of presidential overreach. Espinosa also noted that he was worried about the bill’s lasting impact.
“This policy is only good as long as the current border regulations are enforced as they should be,” Espinosa said. “You cannot have people crossing into the country undocumented and not being held accountable.”
Communication and women and gender studies double major sophomore Clara Gallagher expressed deep concern about the bill. Gallagher was one of several organizers of the Open Conversation: DACA on Tuesday Oct. 3, which examined the perspectives of undocumented people in the local area. The event was partly organized in response to Collins’ bill, according to Gallagher.
“All of these bills are so dehumanizing and turning these people into villains, and that’s the biggest issue in my opinion,” Gallagher said. “This is their home, they don’t know anywhere else, and they shouldn’t have to pay for their parents’ decisions.”
International relations and geography double major junior Drew Arnum was disappointed in how the college administration responded to Trump’s termination of DACA. President Denise Battles was invited to the Open Conversation: DACA event multiple times and organizers were dissatisfied with her absence, according to Arnum.
“I would also argue that many organizers of this event, as well as many DACA recipients on campus, would agree that Battles’ statement to the community, being her email, was insufficient as support,” Arnum said. “She did not offer the solidarity that we need as a campus at this moment.”
Despite these concerns, Minkel argued that Congressman Collins’ stance was not too far from students like Gallagher.
“The Congressman doesn’t believe that they [DACA recipients] have done anything wrong here,” Minkel said. “They were brought into this country illegally by their parents at no fault of their own. It’s the Congressman’s priority to make sure that these children who are contributing to society, that have known no other home, are going to be taken care of.”u