When Donald Trump became president, many things became uncertain, especially for the immigrant community. Immigrant youth and their allies were uncertain if he would keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the significant benefits it provides to young people. Everything was up in the air.
Some interesting academic exchange projects between the U.S. and Mexico that started before Trump were halted temporarily. This was due in part to concerns that DACA recipients who traveled abroad through a permit called Advance Parole might not be able to re-enter the U.S.
Many DACA recipients who traveled abroad made plans to return to the U.S. before Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017. Fortunately, the holidays were over and the majority of DACA-DREAMers were home safe in the U.S.
But Trump and his administration haven’t cracked down on DACA-DREAMers as much as people feared, so far. There have been only isolated cases of detentions, which have been successfully fought by expert lawyers and grassroots organizing, such as the cases of Daniel and Daniella.
One positive effect of this is that the U.S.-Mexico academic exchange programs have restarted. Such is the case with California-Mexico Studies Center’s DREAMers Abroad, and the Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute at the City University of New York system.
These collaborative projects between American universities and Mexican foundations and universities engage participants in graduate level courses and give students the opportunity to travel and conduct ethnographic research on their family’s immigration experience. This summer, the DREAMers Abroad program is open to students outside California and DREAMers from countries other than Mexico, although the program will be held in Mexico.
The programs’ restarting is great news to Karina Ruiz, chair of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition, who is applying for DREAMers Abroad. “This is an invaluable opportunity of being able to hug my brothers after 18 years of not seeing them,” she says. “It means that I will be able to meet my five nephews whom I have never seen, to visit the grave of my grandfathers, and although I will not see them, I will be able to visit the place where they rest in peace. DREAMers Abroad will allow me to reconnect with my origins and reconnect with my culture. It means that I will have the opportunity to learn from the program and give others the opportunity.”
“My expectations are to learn from the current situation of repatriated migrants to advocate for them, as well as connect with other DREAMers from all over the country to make a common front against the current administration,” she continues. “We cannot be afraid, and it is our responsibility to start a serious dialogue.”
Ruiz is also advocating the expansion of this type of program at other colleges and universities, including trips to Guatemala to connect Guatemalan DREAMers with their birthplace.
Watch this moving video about young immigrants’ experiences going back to their place of birth.