Disclaimer: On July 29, 2020 and September 1, 2020, the Trump administration and USCIS released new information that goes against the June 18, 2020 Supreme Court decision that this article discusses (Immigrants Rising). Much of this information is unfortunate and continues to restrict the program. At the end of the article, you can find the latest updates.
Thousands of Dreamers received shocking news regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or the DACA program, on June 18th (The New Yorker). Although it is a decision that has been in waiting for a long time, it was still unexpected for many. This new ruling not only brings hope but uncertainty to many Dreamers and undocumented folk.
Ever since 2017, President Trump and his administration have been out to get rid of this Obama-era program (ADL). However, last month, the Supreme Court Justices ruled in a split decision, 5–4, that the Trump Administration’s attempt to shut down DACA was unlawful (NPR). In other words, the termination did not follow the proper procedures in order to make it legal.
For the time being, this is terrific news for Dreamers because it grants a temporary solution for them to continue renewing their two-year permits. Additionally, this decision consisted of reinstating the DACA program to its original 2012 version where new applicants should be able to apply for it as well as existing recipients being able to obtain advance parole.
Unfortunately, due to this being a temporary solution given that Congress has not acted on it, the risk of the administration ending DACA in the future still remains. San Joaquin College of Law professor Linda Barreto, director of the New American Legal Clinic, says that while “both parties agree that the administration has the authority to terminate the program, policy and legal experts don’t think that there is enough time between now and the November election to do so.” Although he can make several attempts to end it again, Linda Barreto believes that it will be difficult to accomplish within this time frame given he has to “provide DACA recipients a notice or an exit plan.”
DACA is not only protection from deportation, it means much more to those who have it. It gives recipients opportunities. With it, they are able to work, get their driver’s licenses, qualify for bank loans that can allow them to buy a house of their own, enroll in school to further their education, and to receive financial aid to be able to afford that education. Even though it protects and helps one person, the effects that it has are not limited to them, they multiply. It becomes a sense of hope for the rest of the family. This permit helps the entire family by offering the recipient a secure job that will grant them well-paid salaries to sustain their family as well as the provision of medicare, something that has been an issue in the United States for a long time.
The fate of DACA recipients is constantly in limbo and has almost become a political football. The policy is temporary and always in question; it does not grant recipients a path to citizenship and it will always be insecure as long as Congress does not take action to fix it. Luis Cortes, a thirty-two-year-old immigration lawyer expresses how he “can’t think of one circumstance when the government just passed a law to help disenfranchised people” and how it “has had to come with a community struggle. We have to pressure the government to do the right thing,” (The New Yorker).
As if it already did not occur within the undocumented community, many DACA recipients who have this protection and qualify to renew fail to do so due to the overbearing fear that their application could be used against them for deportation purposes. They are in a constant battle with themselves whether or not to take the risk.
Now, Dreamers are in fear about whether or not Trump will try to end the program again, and when this will occur. Without any action from Congress, Dreamers hold back and are prevented from seeking life-changing opportunities. For their sake, it is urgent that this controversy ends.
In recent matters, on July 17th, Judge Paul Grimm of the U.S. District Court in Maryland “requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to restore DACA to the way it operated before the administration tried to terminate it in the fall of 2017,” (CBS) This order instructs and pressures the USCIS to allow hundreds of thousands of potential new applicants to apply for the first time to the program.
Given this new information, it is important to stay informed and on the lookout for red flags to avoid being scammed. In a conversation with Linda Barreto, she “advises anybody who would be a first-time DACA applicant to certainly talk to an immigration attorney or an accredited representative or agency to make sure that they are eligible so they can go ahead and start gathering all of the evidence.”
“First, try to seek out an immigration attorney who focuses their practice on immigration only or an organization who is accredited and backed by the state of California” Linda Barreto recommends. In the Central Valley, there are several nonprofits and college campuses who are assisting with covering the application fee. It is important that you stay clear of anyone that might be overcharging you or anyone that sets out promises. Although we all like to hear what we want, if someone promises you this permit, it is not secure because they have no control over it. Always be sure that you do not fall for these promises. Linda Barreto also suggests that you “ask for the lawyer’s bar number” to keep in your records.
It is crucial to stay vigilant when it comes to DACA. The fight has not ended. Changes will continue to happen but that does not mean hope should be lost. Stay informed and advocate for the undocumented community because they rightly deserve to be here just like any other human being.
Check out these Central Valley immigration services:
About the Author
Diana Arlet Salinas Vargas (She/Her)
Diana Salinas, originally from Bakersfield, CA, is a rising Public Policy sophomore at the University of Southern California. She is determined to spark real change and make an impact on the accessibility to higher education within the Central Valley. When reflecting on her college application process, she realized how intimidating and daunting the application process really was, especially as a first-generation, DACAmented woman of color. So, as a result, Diana has taken the initiative to create her own blog where she shares her experiences as a first-generation, DACAmented woman of color in a predominantly white institution. Overall, Diana strives to create an inclusive community and a safe space where nobody has to feel alone nor lost.