Two years after the Trump administration rescinded the DACA initiative and many court challenges later, thousands of undocumented immigrants are left in limbo awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on their future.
Two years after the Trump administration rescinded the DACA initiative and many court challenges later, thousands of undocumented immigrants are left in limbo awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on their future. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy passed by the Obama administration in 2012.
It allows individuals illegally brought to the U.S. as children to receive temporary protection from deportation, become eligible for work permits and is renewable every two years. “It was definitely not a pathway to citizenship, but at least it was something,” said Florida immigration attorney Paola Usquelis. “At least they were not totally illegal anymore. As long as their DACA was valid, they could work, they could not be deported, so it was better than nothing.”
In 2017 however, the Trump administration repealed DACA, leaving the future of DREAMers uncertain. The courts have since fought back, arguing the lawfulness of the termination, which led to preliminary injunctions and allowed DACA recipients to renew their protections, according to the Center for American Progress.
With the policy’s fate in the air, it is important to understand how vital and beneficial it has been for DREAMers like Analleli Gallegos. Gallegos was 10 when she and her family fled from Mexico to escape the domestic abuse from her father.
She was later enrolled in school, where she learned English and eventually graduated from high school in 2007, when she then realized her situation.
“Imagine me applying for all these colleges, and trying to get a better education, and then somebody telling me, ‘oh, you can’t,’” said Gallegos. “So, it’s like everything that I did for those years that I went to high school, middle school, elementary were not worth anything.”
Wanting to continue her studies, Gallegos attended a semester at Miami-Dade College, but the cost of paying out-of-state tuition was too much. With the announcement of DACA several years later, the opportunity to study was possible.
“I was one of the happiest women in the world,” she said. “Now, I knew I had to take advantage of that and help the community and obviously help myself achieve my goals.”
Since then, Gallegos has graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration with a focus on information systems and finance and plans to enter the master’s program. Gallegos is one of the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been able to receive a higher education and better working positions thanks to DACA.
Famous YouTube star and vlogger, David Dobrik, is also a DACA recipient. He stated his disapproval in a Tweet back in 2017 when he wrote: “I paid $400,000 in taxes last year and all I got was a free trip back to Slovakia. I’m sorry to say I cannot attend Vidcon Australia, as of yesterday Trump has taken away all my travel privileges #DefendDACA.”
Attorney Paola Usquelis also made the argument regarding the education of undocumented minors. The Constitution requires that all children be given equal educational opportunity no matter their race, ethnic background, religion, or sex, or whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen. “So basically, your taxes and my taxes are paying for those kids to get an education, a good education,” Attorney Usquelis said. “And then after that we send them back? We kick them out? That doesn’t make any sense.”
The lingering question remains: What would happen if DACA was to end? “It’s a nightmarish scenario. If the Supreme Court folds and Trump wins, he has the right to end DACA, which means that tomorrow Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] can go and pick up those kids anywhere in the United States and deport them,” said Attorney Usquelis.
Attorney Usquelis added that they could retreat to sanctuary states such as California; however, since the decision is considered federal law, ICE could still legally detain and deport them. “How long a state can fight the federal government over the DREAMers, I don’t know,” she said.
So, what should current DACA recipients do in the meantime? Both Attorney Usquelis and Gallegos say that they should renew. Make sure that all their paperwork is always in order, make sure to keep their criminal record clean, and be model American citizens despite the uncertainty. Gallegos adds they should be more aware about what is happening with the current situation and to call their congress members and push for recognition.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments regarding DACA cases on November 12. Gallegos says she will be there in Washington during the proceedings and will be rallying at the capitol to insist on keeping DACA and the protections it offers. “This is where we belong. We are just taking advantage of the opportunities that are given, exactly like they did. They became judges; they’re there because they had a dream,” she said. “They worked hard for it, and now they’re there. So, it’s the same thing. We have a dream, we’re working towards it, and we want just to be successful.”
Haz clic para leer en Español: La importancia de DACA y sus efectos en el futuro de los DREAMers