July 8, 2020
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A look inside the Toro Dreamers Success Center, during a 2019 arts competition event co-hosted by External Relations and Congresswoman Diaz Barragán. Photo courtesy of Lisa Sueki

By Brenda Fernanda Verano, News Editor 

Editor Note: The writer is an undocumented student.

The approximately 750,000 undocumented immigrants across the country brought to the U.S. as children – also known as Dreamers – woke up  Thursday morning to the news that the nation’s top court rejected President Trump’s attempt to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). 

 California State University, Dominguez Hills student Fatima Gutierrez was one. When she woke up to a text from Ana Barragan, the coordinator of the Toro Dreamers Success Center, she said, “couldn’t believe it, I started to tear up.”

Gutierrez, a third-year general physics major, is one of the approximately 500 undocumented students at CSUDH.   She recalls taking some time on her own to fully process the news before telling her parents who later joined in celebrating this win with her. 

(For a list of upcoming events intended to answer questions or provide clarity for both DACA students and allies, see the bottom of this story.)

 The 5-4 vote from the U.S. Supreme Court hinged on Chief Justice John  G. Roberts, who joined the liberal bloc of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Roberts wrote the majority opinion, which claimed that the Trump administration failed to provide enough adequate justification to validate the rescinding of the federal program, which began in 2012 via an executive order by former President Barack Obama.

Roberts’ majority opinion made it clear that the court was not ruling that the Trump administration cannot end the program, but that its 2017 attempt was “arbitrary and capricious,” and lacked sound legal justification.

Roberts wrote that if  the administration tries to terminate DACA again,  it must go through a proper procedure that accounts for the interests of the approximately 700,000 people who are DACA recipients 5s.

The Supreme Court decision was not taken lightly, and minutes after it was announced presidential candidates weighed in. President Donald Trump described the decision as not only horrible but made an interesting choice of words when he tweeted it was a ”shotgun blast into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.” 

Not long after that, Democratic  Joe Biden, in a video uploaded via Twitter, described the decision as a “landmark victory,” and added that what is truly needed is an immigration reform that conveys a path to citizenship for Dreamers. He promised to “send that bill to Congress” in his first days as president.

DACA, initially introduced by President Barack Obama in 2012, aimed to protect qualified Dreamers, or people brought to the U.S. when they were children,  to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation but it did not grant them a path to citizenship. It  has been a primary target for the Trump administration since day one.

 In September 2017, Trump administration official Elaine Duke ordered to “execute a wind-down of the program,” as stated in the Memorandum on Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, which led the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop accepting new applications. No first-time DACA applicants were permitted – a regulation that blocked millions of immigrants from being able to legally work in this country. Since the “wind-down,” immigrant advocacy groups and organizations counsel those who already had DACA to file for renewals as soon as possible. 

 The decision prompted lawsuits and in January, 2018, a federal judge in San Francisco blocked the DACA repeal. Since then, Dreamers were left in limbo, unsure of what the future of DACA holds, that was until yesterday.

Gutierrez said that yesterday’s decisions brought a lot of hope for her.

 “It made me feel hopeful for myself, for my brother, and the rest of the undocumented community,” she said. “God works in mysterious ways, and I think that my God gave me the opportunity to continue having DACA for a reason. I want to make a change someday and inspire other undocumented students.”

The Toro Dreamer Success Center, a home away from home to the approximately 500 undocumented students at CSUDH, hosted “Lets Talk about DACA,”  a community circle via Zoom, where undocumented alumni, incoming frehsman and current students were able to collectively process the Supreme Court’s decisions and analyze the meaning behind it.

Some of the most asked questions in the meeting were, “Does this mean first time applicants can submit and file their application? Do the original DACA requirements stay the same?”

Michelle Polanco, an attorney who offers her services in CSUDH and who works for CARECEN, the largest Central American immigrant rights organization in the country, tried answering the students questions as clearly as possible but said that “nothing that is said today is final,” and added that the 74-page Supreme Court decisions is being read and analyzed by professionals supervisors of organizations like CARECEN, and until then there will be no concrete answers. 

United We Dream, the largest youth-led network in the country, hosted a Facebook Live meeting Thursday to  analyze what this decision meant for the udocumented community, some of the important points were;

  • Current DACA recipients continue to be protected from deportation and  continue to be eligible  for program benefits like work authorization.
  • Eligible DACA recipients can continue to apply to renew their DACA for two more years with the cost remaining at $495.
  • The decision says the original program should reset to its origins mandate and therefore eligible individuals who never had DACA should be able to apply at this time.
  • All eligible individuals should consult with a legal services

Barragan, who was once a DACA recipient, reminded the undocumented community that DACA was never a permanent solution and that  immigration reform is necessary. Therefore the immigrant community must “celebrate today  and start thinking of how to organize tomorrow,” she said.

“[DACA] is not everything we want, not everything the undocumented community deserves, but it is a win and you must celebrate today because you deserve it,” Barragan said.

If you are an undocumented or DACA student, faculty, or staff, here are some upcoming events:

Empowerment Circles for DACA Students:
Join the discussion about community care and self-empowerment. Dr. Quintero and Dr. Rosas from Student Health and Psychological Services will lead this session.
Monday, June 22nd from 1:00 – 2:00pm

Zoom Meeting ID: 947 4331 5805

Empowerment Circles for DACA Faculty and Staff:
Join the discussion about community care and self-empowerment. Dr. Quintero and Dr. Rosas from Student Health and Psychological Services will lead this session.
Tuesday, June 23rd from 3:00 – 4:00pm

Zoom Meeting ID: 947 4331 5805

DACA Legal Updates (open to everyone including community members):
Join the CARECEN College Legal Services for a legal analysis on the Supreme Court’s decision on DACA.

Monday, June 22nd from 4:00pm – 5:00pm. OR Thursday, June 25th from 1:00pm – 2:00pm

RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/yccwfq5q

If you are an ally and want to learn more, Ana Barragan, the coordinator of the CSUDH Toro Dreamers Success Centers, suggests the following events:

DACA Legal Updates (open to everyone including community members):
Join the CARECEN College Legal Services for a legal analysis on the Supreme Court’s decision on DACA.

Monday, June 22nd from 4:00pm – 5:00pm. OR Thursday, June 25th from 1:00pm – 2:00pm

RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/yccwfq5q

DACA decision and What it Means for Higher Education (open to everyone including community members):

Experts from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Immigrant Legal Defense (ILD) will share more about the Supreme Court decision, its impact on DACA recipients, next steps recipients can take in light of the decision, and resources available for DACA recipients including students, faculty and staff at higher education institutions and their families.

Wednesday, June 24th from 12:00pm – 1:30pm

RSVP: https://cccconfer.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_sviTwSmfQzuOngOJ62drUA

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