As politicians and pundits analyze the implications of this week’s DACA ruling – the latest in a string of court defeats for the Trump administration on DACA – Miriam Jordan and Sona Patel of the New York Times have a new must-read piece highlighting the perspective of those most affected, the Dreamers and their families, and how they have organized to achieve both a policy and cultural change in the only country they know – the United States of America.
As the duo concludes:
Yehimi Cambron, an art teacher in Atlanta and a DACA recipient, spread news of the latest court decision among students at her school, many of whom she believes are undocumented.
Some of them were celebrating; others were skeptical. All of them were exhausted by the breathtaking twists and turns of the past year or so.
“Any time there is one of these decisions, there’s a feeling of hope,” said Ms. Cambron, 25.
But maybe, she knows by now, not for long. “Even if there are small victories,” she said, “people are now in survival mode.”
She added: “We can’t continue living this way.”
The entire piece is worth the read – available online here and excerpted below:
Since the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign, young people who benefited from the Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, have seen their hopes alternately elevated and dashed, sometimes in the space of a single week. President Trump canceled the program, some judges revived it, politicians negotiated deals to save it — but none of them closed.
How nerve-racking has it been?
Just ask Arlette Morales of York, Pa. “I turned 15 in September, right at the time the program started to shut down,” she said. “When I heard that news, I teared up and didn’t want to believe it. I lost hope.”
That all changed on Wednesday after she heard the news about the judge’s latest decision.
“I feel empowered. I am motivated again. I have to continue thinking positive,” she said.
What has this crazy ride been like for the 700,000 undocumented immigrants, brought to the United States as children, whose fate depends on DACA? Here’s a glimpse.
The Dream Begins
2010: Much of DACA had its seeds in a piece of legislation known as the Dream Act that would have given a path to citizenship to more than one million young immigrants brought illegally into the country as children.
Obama Steps In: DACA is Born
June 2012: Under pressure from the young immigrants and their allies, President Obama took executive action to create DACA, providing the young people with protection from deportation and work permits renewable every two years.
When Mr. Obama made the announcement in the Rose Garden, Dreamers around the country — many who had been glued to their televisions — were elated. They embraced and cried, this time in celebration.
“I received a call from a White House official telling me that I should turn on the TV,” recalled Juan Escalante, an activist who was working at his computer in Tallahassee, Fla. “When the president was speaking, my jaw dropped to the floor. I ran out of the office to call my mother crying, because I knew it was going to help me, my brothers and thousands of other Dreamers.”
Mr. Escalante and two younger brothers signed up for the program as soon as they could. “Our applications were among the first, I am sure,” Mr. Escalante said.
Thanks to DACA, his brother, Daniel, was able to work legally for the first time, pay for more college classes and afford a car. Mr. Escalante, 26, expects to graduate on April 30 from Florida International University and plans to become a high school teacher.
The same year DACA went into effect, attempts to end the program began to surface. They went nowhere.
The End of DACA
Sept. 5, 2017: Sessions announced the administration’s decision to end DACA.
Later that evening, Trump called on Congress to pass a replacement.
For participants in the program, the abrupt decision was stunning. DACA had enabled them to get jobs, attend college, obtain driver’s licenses and even get 401(k)s. Everything was at risk.
Heyra Avila, 22, who arrived in the United States from Mexico at the age of 4, donned a T-shirt emblazoned with “Here to Stay” and joined a DACA rally in Cincinnati outside the office of Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.
She was feeling defiant.
“No matter what the administration says and does, I am going to keep fighting for justice for thousands of immigrants here in the United States,” said Ms. Avila, who is a paralegal in Florence, Ky. “We’re not going anywhere.”