Local DACA recipients react to Supreme Court ruling
KEYSTONE — Local DACA recipients sighed a breath of relief last week after the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to end the program, which provides legal protections to young immigrants brought to the country as children.
While the decision serves to protect DACA recipients for now, advocates are pushing for a more permanent solution.
“It does at minimum give a little bit of security for our Dreamers, however there is still a lot of uncertainty for them,” said Carime Lee, a board member for Mountain Dreamers, a local group that supports and provides resources for DACA recipients. “The DACA program prevents their deportation and gives them the right to work, but it does not give them a permanent solution. Our focus is still on seeing Congress take some action on DACA.”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started in 2012, and there are about 700,000 active recipients in the country today, according to 2019 estimates from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Department of Homeland Security announced it was rescinding the program in 2017. Injunctions issued by U.S. district courts kept the program active, and the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case late last year.
Last Thursday, the court ruled that the there wasn’t sufficient justification for ending the program.
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The opinion from Chief Justice Roberts reads: “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern.’ We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”
The ruling provided some comfort to local DACA recipients.
“I looked down at my phone and I felt a huge wave of relief go over me,” said Manuel Lopez, one of the founders of Summit High School Mountain Dreamers, who plans to attend the Metropolitan State University of Denver later this year. “For the past three years I’ve just been waiting for the final decision. There’s been a lot of anxiety and stress — will I have a future here, or will I not have a future here? Now I’m a lot more relieved.”
“My first reaction was to scream with happiness,” said Zuleyma Arias, a DACA recipient who works in the Women, Infants and Children office at the county’s public health department. “There was a lot of emotions, tears coming down and a lot of relief. Now that we know DACA stays we get to plan for the future.”
But more efforts to end the program may emerge in the future, and DACA recipients still don’t have permanent pathways to citizenship. Advocates say the solution is for legislators to pass new laws that would provide permanent residence status, and eventually citizenship for DACA recipients.
Efforts are underway. Both the Dream Act of 2019 and the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 —which passed through the House in June last year — would provide a pathway.
And Colorado lawmakers are largely pushing for a lasting solution. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet have already come out in support of the Dream and Promise Act, and Senate hopefuls John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff have both expressed a desire to protect DACA recipients. House representatives Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter also applauded the court’s decision.
“It definitely was a relief for that day,” said Javier Pineda, a paralegal and vice president of Mountain Dreamers. “Now I feel like with the decision from the Supreme Court, the administration can make a more well-crafted push into ending it. It’s terrifying to know they might have the tools this time. There was definitely some brief sunlight, but the storm is still brewing.”
DACA recipients said that while the most recent Supreme Court decision is a positive, they won’t be able to breathe easy until new laws are in the books.
“It’s been a community fight, and a grassroots fight these last few years,” Pineda said. “The fighting will continue. … There is traction and we need to take advantage of that. We can’t be political pawns for the rest of our lives. We made a promise when we got DACA to continue working and to be a part of the fabric of our community. I’ve continued to do so, but I’m not a political pawn. My life is at stake, along with the rest of the people affected by this.”
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