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“I Live My Life Like Any Other American”: On DACA’s 11th Anniversary, Immigrants Celebrate Successes, Urge Legislative Fix to Continued Uncertainty

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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, DACA-eligible individuals, lawmakers and allies marked the 11th anniversary of the program on Thursday. While 580,000 immigrants are currently protected by DACA, impeached Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has led the extremist campaign to terminate these protections through the anti-immigrant judicial pipeline. Affected individuals are currently waiting on a ruling from an anti-immigrant Texas court.

Still, young immigrants and their allies rallied across multiple cities this week in support of the hugely successful and popular program, as well as to continue calling for permanent relief. Not only have Republicans spent years attacking DACA and its beneficiaries through the right-wing courts, they’ve continued to obstruct full passage of humane legislation. 

In downtown Los Angeles, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) led a rally calling for a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, as well as all undocumented communities across the nation. “Undocumented communities deserve the right to a dignified, safe life,” tweeted California Endowment.

In San Jose, rally goers carried Spanish-language signs reading “Act today!” and “Yes, we can” at an event organized by Amigos de Guadalupe. “Jessica Parra, a community navigator for Amigos de Guadalupe with family who are DACA recipients, said ending the program would be detrimental,” San Jose Spotlight reported. Like we’ve previously noted, DACA recipients have thrived under the program in addition to having greater peace of mind thanks to deportation protections.

“It would drastically, drastically diminish someone’s ability to move up the social ladder, the economic ladder,” Parra said in the report. “So it wouldn’t just affect me, but millions of families all over the country.”


Advocates for immigration rights gathered in downtown San Jose today to call for DACA’s continuation and the expansion of the immigration registry. #daca #sanjose #california #politics #undocumented

♬ original sound – San José Spotlight

One speaker at the rally pushed for support for the Dream and Promise Act, which was reintroduced that same day in Congress. While the bill passed the House under Democratic leadership in 2019 and again in 2021, Senate Republicans refused to step up to help overcome the Jim Crow filibuster. Young immigrants “know only America as their home,” Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) said Thursday. “They contribute to society as taxpayers, small business owners, educators, and more. Citizenship is the only path forward.” President Joe Biden has repeatedly voiced support for the bill, including after the 2021 court decision that blocked all new applications. 

“Dreamers are Americans,” President Biden said Thursday. “Many have spent the majority of their lives in the United States. They are our doctors, our teachers, and our small business owners. Dreamers strengthen our economy, enrich our workplaces, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, many served their communities on the frontlines.” He said that “only Congress can provide permanent and lasting stability for these” young Americans and their families.

The White House also promoted a number of videos where DACA recipients shared their powerful stories. “Salma was born in Mexico and moved to Georgia when she was one-year-old,” read one tweet. “She currently works as a medical assistant and hopes to one day become a pediatrician focused on helping underserved communities.” A second video focused on Diego, who arrived from Peru when he was nine. “After DACA was announced, he secured a job as a software developer and later became a realtor. Now, his real estate team is ranked #16 in the country and employs hundreds of people.”

In Maryland, lawmakers also joined immigrant communities to demand protections for immigrant communities. “Tonight I joined @CASAforall and @GovWesMoore to celebrate #DACA 11th anniversary and demand #TPS designate for all of Central America,” tweeted Delegate Ashanti Martinez. “Our undocumented neighbors live in fear and we need the Biden-Harris administration to act to protect our families.”

In a video from Make The Road New York, Eva Santos Veloz, a DACA recipient from the Bronx, shared how DACA has changed her life and opened up opportunities previously unavailable to her.

DACA “allowed me to have the opportunity to have a stable job, provide for my children, and finally pursue college to attend my biggest dreams,” Santos Veloz said in the video. “DACA has been one of the biggest opportunities for me in this country, and I hope so many others like me are able to be able to get the same. Even though that this is just a temporary protection, it has given me a path to achieve my dreams and goals.”

The Republican-led litigation currently blocking first-time DACA applicants left tens of thousands of applications in limbo. FWD.us has estimated that as many as 400,000 young immigrants would be eligible to apply for DACA if it weren’t for Judge Andrew Hanen’s 2021 ruling. One young immigrant blocked from applying is United We Dream Texas member Aurora Lozano Chavez, who said that “living without DACA has been a hardship on me and my family.”

“I feel limited in what I can do in the moment and what I can pursue for my future,” Lozano Chavez said. “I need DACA to finish my bachelor’s degree without worrying about the ability to meet my family’s basic needs and affording proper care for my mom’s medical condition. I am one of tens of thousands of people who qualified for DACA but have been shut out of having our applications processed. All of us, including those who never even qualified for DACA in the first place, need permanent protection now to feel safe and not in constant fear of detention and deportation.”

“I live my life like any other American,” DACA recipient Nery Lopez told MSNBC’s José Díaz-Balart. She’s lived in the US since she was four years old. This is her home. In her Twitter thread, America’s Voice Political Associate Yuna Oh wrote that DACA recipients “are breadwinners, mothers, fathers, guardians who have dependents that continue to survive thru DACA recipients’ hard-worked wages. Ending DACA = family separation.” Read her entire thread here.

“My future is just on hold right now,” Aurora Lozano told TIME. She’s also an American in every way but on a piece of paper. “Thanks to a huge blessing, a scholarship I received for people like me, I’m able to go back [to school] this fall.” She’s currently blocked from applying for DACA. “But when it comes to applying for a job, no one’s really going to hire undocumented people. So I think when it comes to having a job, that’s kind of out of reach right now. It’s impossible.”