Dreamers and DACA supporters from all across the U.S. gathered outside the Supreme Court to demonstrate for the continued support for DACA.
Photo courtesy of Bread for the World / Creative Commons
By Clara Applegarth
The Supreme Court recently decided that it will not act on the Trump administration’s efforts to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
This means the original March 5 cut-off for status renewals has been extended, providing relief for undocumented young people, including several hundred Cuesta students.
The court’s Feb. 25 decision to stay out of the legal fray and send the matter back to the lower courts has resulted in more than 700,000 DACA recipients nationwide receiving a reprieve from potential deportation.
The result has been a collective sigh of relief from those who illegally immigrated as children to the United States and were then allowed to legally work and attend school under the program established by President Barack Obama.
Even though the matter will likely not be resolved for up to another year, the uncertainty of the outcome causes significant concern for DACA recipients, including those at Cuesta.
“Every day our students are still in limbo,” Estella Vazquez said, an enrollment specialist at Cuesta who aids undocumented students daily. “They have [to] live in fear, uncertainty, not knowing if there is ever going to be a real immigration reform to finally give them some peace.”
Nearly 250,000 young people became DACA recipients in California between 2012 and 2017, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Of those, officials estimate 60,000 are enrolled in the state’s community colleges; 8,300 at Cal State campuses; and, 4,000 at UC.
There were reportedly about 570 undocumented Cuesta students in October 2017, when officials last released data to The Cuestonian. This number may be slightly inaccurate, though, because not all undocumented students disclose their status, officials said.
A new request for updated data has been denied, although these numbers are reported to the state and considered public information.
DACA is an act implemented by the Obama administration allowing immigrant students or workers permission to safely live in the US.
“It is unclear how long this temporary stay will remain in place,” Salud Carbajal, San Luis Obispo’s congressman said. “I encourage all eligible DACA recipients with expiring authorizations to submit their renewal applications as soon as possible.
“We need a permanent fix for DACA recipients who continue to live in constant fear of deportation,” Carbajal said. “That’s why I am co-sponsoring the bipartisan DREAM Act to codify the DACA program and provide certainty to DACA recipients so they can continue to work, attend school, and contribute to our communities.”
In a recent meeting with DACA students at Cuesta, many responded to the Supreme Court action, however they requested anonymity for fear of deportation.
“It’s good because it gave people the opportunity to continue their education,” said a Cuesta dreamer, who is in the nursing program. “Before the deadline, my brother wouldn’t be able to renew his status.”
DACA supporters said they will still have to work in urgency to formulate a plan that will grant these immigrants the ability to stay and work safely.
This all began when Judge William Alsup of the US District Court refused to participate in the Trump administration’s plan to terminate DACA, which would have resulted in mass deportations around the nation, officials said.
Adding to the legal feud over the matter, only one day after the original March 5 deadline, the Justice Department sued the state of California for providing sanctuary cities. The lawsuit stated that these protections allegedly violate the Constitution.
“This affects all of us,” Vazquez said. “America needs to embrace and celebrate every culture. Dreamers are the future of the country, let’s give them a chance to achieve an education.”
Shortly after the Supreme Court action became public, White House Deputy Secretary Raj Shah released the following public statement deeming the ruling unlawful:
“The DACA program — which provides work permits and myriad government benefits to illegal immigrants en masse — is clearly unlawful. The district judge’s decision unilaterally to re-impose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority.”
However, the DACA students and their supporters insist they are not violating the law and make worthwhile contributions to the country. Many even have said that because they immigrated as young children that this is, in fact, the only country they remember.
“My hope is, lawmakers will finally understand the contributions of immigrants from all over the world provide,” Vazquez said. “Immigrants are here in search of the American Dream! Where did it go?”