Immigrant youth and their advocates expressed a sigh of relief on Tuesday January the 9th, 2018. after a judge in San Francisco reinstated nationwide the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Background: Trump ordered a smiling Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce the dismantling of the program on September 5, putting around 800,000 young people who have been in the U.S. for most of their lives in danger of deportation and financial ruin, along with their families. The end of the program meant the loss of their work permit and subsequently their driver’s licenses and in-state-tuition in many states.
The creation of DACA was announced on June 15, 2012 after the DREAMers fought with the Obama administration for an “administrative relief” to their situation. DREAMers were aware that Congress (which was controlled by Republicans then and now) was not be able to pass a permanent solution such as the DREAM Act.
The court decision: The San Francisco court ruling on January 9, 2018 was great news for many, including employers and community leaders who are counting on the talents and income of this young workforce and student population to propel local economies.
In short, the court decision:
- Is a preliminary injunction. It is temporary, and it is expected that the Trump administration will challenge it.
- The judge was careful to note that the injunction was nationwide, to prevent states from denying or playing shenanigans with the decision.
- It only benefits renewals and does not apply to new DACA applicants. Consult a trusted lawyer for your particular case.
- The injunction pertains to one of the several lawsuits against the decision to terminate DACA.
What DACA beneficiaries need to do:
1. Push Congress to pass the DREAM Act. Congress will have the opportunity on January 19 to add to the spending bill a permanent solution similar to a DREAM Act. Many obstacles are on the horizon as Republican lawmakers will try to attach funding for the border wall and several immigration restrictionist initiatives. Participate in the advocacy for a clean DREAM Act. Connect with nationwide organizations, join online activism and participate in events with a local organization such as this and this. Do the same if you are an advocate. Do not forget to donate to some of these organizations, as we do. Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund is a proud supporter of immigrant rights organizations.
2. Be ready to renew, but wait until USCIS posts the process*. As of today, January 11, 2018, USCIS has not posted an update that reflects the judge’s injunction and reopens the application process. Lawyers suggest you wait but get all your documents ready for renewal. *UPDATE 1/17/18. USCIS has posted the process to receive DACA renewals. Lawyers and advocates are encouraging past DACA beneficiaries or those whose DACA may expire soon to renew as soon as possible as the Trump administration is taking steps to appeal the California Judge’s decision.
3. Use your DACA to enroll in post-secondary education. Each day you have DACA is a blessing that needs to be used for your professional and personal growth. Ninety-five percent of DACA recipients work, study or do both. Take this opportunity to continue with your education. Enroll now in technical school, community college or university, even if it is just one or two classes. Take advantage of courses that will make you self-employable and are in high demand. For example, the Maricopa County Community Colleges are offering three classes that will give you skills to start a career in computer programing by building apps. This is designed for students who need to study and work and who want to build a portfolio of skills in the near future while they can market what they know. There are even open-source coding classes! Look into your local community college for similar opportunities.
4. Start a business. DREAMers own businesses at TWICE the national average rate. Many immigrant youths have discovered that they cannot depend on the whims of the political system and are starting their own businesses to advance economically. For inspiration, please read our series on DREAMers who do not need a work permit here, here and here.
5. Stay on top of the news. Yes, this is going to be a rollercoaster of a news cycle. Trust Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund for keeping you informed of the latest developments.
6. Be resilient. Be aware but not scared. Transform any anxiety into positive action, and share your concerns with trusted family and friends. Seek support from DREAM Act advocates, and be confident there are people who care about you and are fighting for you and with you.