The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling against President Trump’s argument to end protections for young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was met with cautious relief Thursday.
The ruling is a victory for the approximately 700,000 active program recipients who entered the U.S. as children and are living here without documentation. It allows them to retain their protection from deportation and their authorization to work in the country.
“This is very emotional for me. It gives me a little bit of peace,” said Mitzi Colin López, of Coatesville. “But it’s still not a permanent solution and that is why we should keep fighting,” López said.
A rising junior at West Chester University, López came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 3 years old and says she knows very little about her country of origin.
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U.S. Supreme Court's ruling
“Everything I know is here. I don’t even know my grandparents at all because they live (in Mexico),” Lopez said. “I really would like to see people keep this momentum going, not just for ‘Dreamers’ but for other undocumented people who have family and are working here, and have been here for many years.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients are commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act that would have provided similar protections for young immigrants.
‘We are part of this community’
Claudia Llewellyn, also a beneficiary of the program, agrees with López. She says the fear of deportation has gone away but only for the time being.
“The fear and stress level is insane because you don’t know what is going to happen next, you don’t know if you are going to have another chance,” she said.
A Lancaster resident, Llewellyn was born in Honduras and brought to the U.S. when she was 14 . She is pursuing a degree in early childhood education at HACC.
“If DACA went away, it would be catastrophic. We are part of this community; we grew up in these neighborhoods and attended the same schools as everyone else. We have and continue to work in different fields,” Llewellyn said.
‘History in the making’
Advocates of the program expressed enthusiasm about the high court’s ruling.
“This is history in the making. It is beautiful what we’ve accomplished coming together, and it is just the beginning,” said Thais Carrero, state director of CASA in Action, an immigrant advocacy organization. The (Supreme Court’s) decision ... lays the foundation for comprehensive immigration reform, to make sure that all immigrants have a path to citizenship, so they can continue contributing to the fabric of our communities and have access to real opportunities to achieve the American dream."
Sergio González, deputy director of the Immigration Hub, said the ruling is a huge victory, “but the fight is not over.”
“In this moment in history, we should not overlook the valiant contributions ‘Dreamers’ have made to America's communities, culture and economy,” he said in a written statement. “As the country faces a pandemic, approximately 202,500 ‘Dreamers’ are working on the frontlines to save lives and keep our essential industries running. Every day, ‘Dreamers’ remind us they are part of what we aspire to be as a nation.”
The Immigration Hub is a national organization dedicated to advancing fair and just immigration policies.
“This decision is an important victory in the fight for all immigrants and part of a larger movement that demands justice, equity, divestment from racist systems and institutions, and investments in Black communities and communities of color,” said the Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service. “Faith communities across the United States have made their voices heard in support of DACA recipients countless times. We are called to welcome our neighbor. We recognize the God-given dignity in all human beings regardless of their immigration status.”
This decision, though significant, doesn’t provide permanent protections for #Dreamers & TPS recipients. USCIS must immediately begin accepting DACA renewals, and Congress must pass bills to permanently protect their legal status, starting with the American Dream and Promise Act.— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) June 18, 2020
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called the ruling significant, but said it doesn’t provide permanent protections for ‘Dreamers’ and Temporary Protected Status recipients.
“(U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) must immediately begin accepting DACA renewals, and Congress must pass bills to permanently protect their legal status,” the Democratic senator said on his Twitter account.
Republican U.S. Sen. Lloyd Smucker in an email said he has long supported a solution for children who were brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own, “along with securing our borders.”
“I have met with countless DREAMers in PA-11. DACA was not intended to be a permanent solution. It is a shame it took a United States Supreme Court ruling to address our nation’s failed immigration policy, Congress should have taken action,” he wrote. “Since taking office, I have been engaged in ongoing bipartisan discussions, including with the Problem Solvers Caucus, on immigration reforms that would secure our border and reform our legal immigration system to work for all Americans. It is time for Congress to advance legislation to reform our immigration system once and for all.”