DREAMers Get To Stay for Now

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By Sarai Henriqulez, Editorial Intern

Anais Franco was just nine years old when she first stepped foot on American soil, leaving what she knew behind, her life in Mexico. 

“I remember entering the U.S. through [the] San Ysidro Port of Entry,” said Franco., now a 29-year-old woman. “An African- American man greeted us and allowed us to come in, while my mom was left behind. She was detained by Border Patrol.” 

Franco and her mother were separated for two weeks. And later reunited with her mother who was released by border patrol.

During the two decades she has called America her home, she has made big plans for her life, and she has made impressive progress. Franco is a substitute teacher and she intends to go to grad school to obtain a master’s degree in education so she can become a school psychologist. 

But Franco is also among the thousands of immigrants who were facing the prospect that her life’s plans would end up as broken dreams. President Donald Trump intended to end the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals —– sometimes called DACA, more often described as the Dream Act, as in the American Dream. 

The program, created by President Barack Obama, has protected more than 700,000 young immigrants from deportation. DACA advocates went to court to stop Trump’s plan, but the president’s team kept filing appeals. Finally, the case had reached the Supreme Court and Franco worried about being sent back to a country that now seems foreign to them.

Yet, on June 18, the Supreme Court blocked the Donald Trump administration’s plan to end DACA.

“It means that we don’t have to go to sleep every night wondering if the next day ICE is going to show up at my door and take me back to the country I know a little bit of,” Franco said. 

The court ruled 5-4 ruling in favor of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, formally known as DACA.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”

Roberts was joined by the courts four more liberal members in upholding the executive action by the Obama administration that established the program. 

Susana Rouillon, has a similar story to Franco. She came from Peru to America when she was 15 years old from Peru. 

“We lost everything, our house, and the business my dad had,” Rouillon said.. “My dad couldn’t pay the money he borrowed from the bank … so the bank took over our house.” 

Her family decided to try their luck in the United States, which they have been calling “home” for the past 17 years. She plans to get her bachelor’s in sociology from the University of California Riverside.

“It gives us hope and strength to keep moving forward and fighting for our rights, while at the same time, a little peace of mind,” Rouillon said. “It’s hard to live in fear of what could happen with your whole life and what you are building in this country, more now that I’m pursuing higher education.”  

This program started back in June 2012, and it allowed DACA recipients to live in the United States without the threat of deportation and allowed them to get work permits and apply for driver’s licenses. 

 “The fact that this ruling still allows them to continue to work and go to school and look for that future is an extraordinary victory,” said Aracely Saavedra, an immigration specialist from Long Beach.

Saavedra is a law graduate who is preparing for the bar examination to become an immigration attorney and in the process has assisted in many immigration cases pro bono. 

Back in November 2014, the Obama administration wanted to expand the program as an executive action and established a new program and call it the Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents formally known as DAPA.  That program was going to delay deportations for parents of  U.S. citizens. 

In June 2016, DAPA ended effectively as did the expansion of DACA. 

In September 2017 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would end DACA.     

 “He doesn’t grasp the concept of legal immigration, he is trying to cut every venue or avenue they can use to actually have an immigration benefit,” Saavedra said. “He has made it very clear that he is anti-immigration. He doesn’t support it even though his own wife is an immigrant.”  

As of now,  the issue is far from being settled. The court decided that Trump’s decision to cancel DACA was illegal and that Trump does not have the authority to cancel the program, unless he follows the proper procedures to do it the right way.

“A misconception that people have is that we are criminals or that we don’t contribute to society, that we go to school for free and also that we have access to free healthcare,” Rouillon said.

On the day of the ruling former President Obama tweeted in support by saying “Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation.  Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals.” 

“The next big step for DACA is a path to citizenship, so we could have better opportunities like jobs so we can grow personally and professionally,”  Rouillon said. “Most importantly, … be an example for other people to not give up and keep dreaming.”

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