tags: Press Releases

One Week Before Fifth Circuit Hears Latest GOP Legal Challenge to DACA, Op-Eds Make Powerful Cases for Why We Need Legislative Fix

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Washington, DC – June 15th marked the 10-year anniversary of the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Throughout recent days, current and former DACA recipients and their allies have been speaking out about the importance of DACA and why now is the time to build on its successes to deliver a permanent legislative fix. These calls to action are especially acute in light of ongoing legal challenges that threaten the future of DACA, including the challenge brought by the State of Texas that will be heard in one week before a three judge panel on the Fifth Circuit, on July 6th. 

Below, are a sampling of the array of first person testimonials about how DACA has changed lives and strengthened America, starting with select DACA recipients’ voices and finishing with additional allies’ voices and calls to action:

DACA Recipients:

  • Byron Gomez, DACA Recipient and celebrity chef to Eater: “It was a life-changing experience. It opened so many doors for me. (…) I was able to contribute to a 401(k) and receive employer-based health insurance. I was able to start building credit and open bank accounts. But more than that, it gave me confidence.”
  • Erika Andiola, DACA recipient and longtime advocate and activist, to the New York Times: “I graduated with a degree in psychology in 2009, but I wasn’t able to get a job because I didn’t have legal status. DACA changed that… Being able to work meant that I could help my family financially… I think it is important to celebrate a program that was won by young undocumented people and to show young people growing up now the value of organizing. But I also feel very disappointed and frustrated because we thought that eventually something like the Dream Act and broader protection for people like my mother would pass.
  • José Alonso Muñoz, DACA recipient and organizer, to the New York Times: “Being undocumented colored nearly every aspect of my life growing up in tangible ways. I was denied in-state tuition when I graduated and struggled to navigate college with limited resources and access to financial aid. I couldn’t get a driver’s license or apply for jobs. But it also affected me in ways that aren’t so easily quantified, like the feeling of not belonging, being out of place. I was terrified of leaving the house and having any interaction with the police or immigration enforcement.”
  • Gaby Pacheco, former DACA recipient and Director of Advocacy, Development & Communications for TheDream.US, to the New York Times: “The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been one of the most successful immigration programs in the history of the United States. It has offered a glimpse of what citizenship and full participation in American life would mean for undocumented immigrants… Yet these statistics pale in comparison with the individual stories of dreams big and small fulfilled thanks to DACA. The smiling family on a grassy quad celebrating a college graduation. The nervous first-day-of-work selfie before starting a dream job. Advance parole allowed Dreamers to see their grandparents overseas without worrying that they would be barred from re-entering the United States.”
  • Jose Magaña Salgado, immigration lawyer & DACA recipient, to the New York Times: “I was part of the inaugural class of DACA recipients in 2012. Before DACA I felt uncertain about what I’d do once I graduated from college. Being shielded from deportation and having the ability to apply for a work permit meant that there was a pathway for me… As an intervenor in the continuing litigation in the Fifth Circuit regarding the continued existence of DACA, I have been on the front lines of fighting beside and on behalf of courageous undocumented and DACA youth over the past decade… I still have DACA, so I am at risk of losing everything if the initiative ends.”
  • Eva Sanos Veloz, DACA recipient, student and mother, to PopSugar: “There have been many times when I didn’t feel worthy compared to the narratives I was hearing about other DACA recipients. I was a young mom. I was living in a shelter with my kids. I didn’t have a college degree… I was able to get more consistent employment after I got DACA, but it was still harder to find a good-paying job because I didn’t have a college degree. Now, 10 years after I first applied for DACA, the 22-year-old young mom living in a family shelter feels like a lifetime away. Now I am not simply trying to survive, but I am fighting to thrive. One of my biggest dreams is to become an immigration attorney to help others like me. Now, at 32, I am so much closer to that dream than I have ever been. I was recently awarded the Dream US scholarship which will allow me to go to college this fall to major in political science.”
  • Bruna Sollod, DACA recipient and leader at United We Dream, to PopSugar: “Last year, when my husband and I decided to have a baby, I felt so grateful to have DACA because it meant I had access to quality healthcare for my prenatal and postnatal care. It meant I had 12 weeks of paid maternity leave from my employer. It meant I had access to a therapist to support me through postpartum anxiety, and it meant I could afford childcare when I returned to work. All of this should be the norm for every person living in this country, but it’s not.” 
  • Armando Jimenez-Carbarin, DACA Recipient and Organizer with Make the Road Pennsylvania, in Newsweek: “DACA gave me the chance to explore opportunities and take risks without having the threat of deportation and family separation looming over my head for a little while ….It’s time this country lives up to its promise of liberty and justice for all by establishing a pathway to citizenship for all immigrants, and ending immigrant incarceration and deportation.”
  • Elizabeth Cervantes, director of organizing at Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project, and vice president of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Chicago Sun-Times op-ed: “President Obama said in 2012 that ‘these kids deserve to plan their lives in more than two-year increments.’ The truth is, I am not a kid now, and I was not a kid then. I don’t deserve the peace of mind to live and work without fear any more than the next person. My parents and all 11 million undocumented persons who call this country home deserve it the same way, and they deserve it now.”

Political and Civic Leaders:

  • Louis Caldera, Nancy Cantor and Elsa Núñez, higher ed leaders and co-founders of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, in USA Today: “DACA has proved to be one of the most successful immigration programs ever. More than 800,000 individuals brought here as children have relied on DACA work permits, deportation protections and other opportunities to pursue higher education and join the workforce … it is time to build on the success of DACA and pass Dream legislation once and for all. In the past decade, DACA has proved why expanding opportunities for Dreamers is good for all of us.”
  • Second Lady of Pennsylvania Gisele Fetterman in commentary for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “When I was 7 years old, my mother brought me and my brother to America for a shot at a better life. She took unbelievable risks, and made unfathomable sacrifices so that we would have the opportunity to flourish in our new home … As John has often said, ‘immigration makes America, America,’ and we wouldn’t have our beautiful family if my mother hadn’t taken that risk so many years ago to make a better life for us. Other families deserve the same shot. It’s far past time to let the Dreamers rest easy at night, and we will continue to fight to ensure that they can.”
  • Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), a Democratic candidate for Governor, in the Miami Herald: “In Florida and across the country, the resilience of DREAMers — young children who came to the United States with family or loved ones, and who qualified for DACA — remains extraordinary. And so is their passion for our country … I’m committed to removing the barriers that DREAMers face and actively pushing for a pathway to citizenship.”
  • Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO), in an op-ed published in several Colorado outlets: “This program, which allows those who were brought to the United States as children to work legally, has changed countless lives, and benefited us all … DACA has brought so many benefits to our state, but the work isn’t over. Not only is DACA being challenged in federal court, but federal immigration reform efforts tragically remain stalled … As we celebrate the historic anniversary of DACA, as well as Immigrant Heritage Month, we should celebrate how far we’ve come while not forgetting the important work that lies ahead.”