Immigration policy in the United States has always been on the lips of politicians, whether it’s pushing for reform or striking out programs. Especially in our current political climate, the information regarding immigration has saturated various media outlets, each with conflicting messaging and nearly incomprehensible legalese. This fall, ArtsEmerson is honored to welcome Alex Alpharaoh to our stage with WET: A DACAmented Journey, where Alpharaoh has created a theatrical space to detail his own experience as an immigrant and the daily repercussions he faces stemming from the decisions made on Capitol Hill. Alpharaoh’s brutal honesty allows audiences to engage with the issue via a first-person perspective that is often buried by headlines and sound bites.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, introduced by President Obama in June 25th, 2012. Unlike the proposed DREAM Act, DACA does not provide a pathway to citizenship, but it is a renewable two year agreement to defer deportation and allows recipients to become eligible for work permits and obtain a driver’s license.
The program was designed for young adults who grew up in the United States, but entered the country unauthorized. The basic premise was to provide temporary safety and protection for children who are Americans in every sense of the word except one: on paper. While DACA was not intended as a permanent solution, the two year status could ostensibly be renewed until a version of the DREAM Act is passed or the DACA-status-individual obtained citizenship through pre-existing methods.
In order to apply for DACA, you must have entered the country before June 15th, 2007 at a time when you were 16 years old or younger. In addition, you must have completed high school, a GED, or been discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces, proven you are not a threat to national security, and not have conflicted a felony or significant misdemeanor. While the requirements seem fairly simple, the actual acquisition process becomes much more complicated, as Alpharaoh details in WET: A DACAmented Journey. Not only is obtaining DACA status difficult to begin with, but the renewal process is never guaranteed, based on changing eligibility and the consistent threats to terminate DACA from the current presidential administration. Those who have DACA are now left in a state of immigration limbo, so to speak, with no direct path to citizenship.
For ArtsEmerson, WET: A DACAmented Journey comes to Boston at a particularly uncertain time for all immigrants; we hope that this production will inspire you to take action and to continue the conversation, whether it is with our upcoming engagement events surrounding this production or at home with family and friends.
WET: A DACAmented Journey runs NOV 8 – 25 at the Jackie Liebergott Black Box inside the Emerson Paramount Center.