Things That Matter

We Spoke To Some DACA Recipients About Their Uncertain Future. Here’s What They Said

On Tuesday, President Trump and his administration announced via Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they are rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) citing rule and law. The program was put forth in an executive order by President Obama on June 15, 2012. It allowed for people brought to the U.S. as minors without legal documentation to get work permits and driver’s licenses, and shielded them from deportation as long as they did not commit any felonies. Information on the status of the rescission can be found here.

Mitú went to the National DACA Mobilization Day in downtown Los Angeles and spoke with some Dreamers about what this decision means to them.

Maribel Serrano, Dreamer and filmmaker

CREDIT: mitú

“DACA gave me the permission to be the American on the outside that I’ve always been on the inside. It allowed me to work legally and to pursue passions that I have so I no longer have to work in the service industry,” Serrano says. “I no longer felt like I couldn’t sleep some days because I was afraid of deportation and it helped me to become more vocal and really tell my story and to get the heavy, heavy burden off my chest. At one point, before DACA, we were nonexistent. We had to live with this every single day. After DACA, we were able to tell everyone our stories, be open and just tell our truths. And that’s really all we’ve been doing is telling our truths.”

Edwin Soto Saucedo, Dreamer and law student

CREDIT: mitú

“I’m one of the primary incomes for my household. I have a single parent and we live in a lower privileged neighborhood, so taking away my job and everything that we’ve gotten used to for the past five years, we can’t even think about what might happen,” Saucedo says. “Obviously, I’m going to have to find another job that is paying under the minimum wage and just going back so much from what we are already used to. It impacts me and my little sisters. They know that I am undocumented, and trying to explain to a 5 and 9-year-old what the affects are and what DACA has done for me and what might happen because of it being rescinded is powerful. There are really no words to express other than it’s a major setback for my family, my community, my people and myself. My educational aspirations are also impacted. I fund my own education so it’s a lot.”

Nicholas Carrillo, ally

CREDIT: mitú

“I’ve have a few friends [on DACA] who’ve gone to college. I’m about to graduate from Cal State LA and I’ve been able to meet people that wouldn’t be in this country if it wasn’t for DACA. I wouldn’t have been able to grow alongside them and for them to teach me the lessons that they taught me if it wasn’t for that program,” Carrillo says. “I have friends that will have to go back into the shadows and family members who are afraid of losing the ability to work in this country and the ability to stay here. It’s devastating to be able to hold on to a little bit of hope and then for them to take [DACA] away. [Taking away] their ability to work, study and just have a family here, especially when all you’ve ever know is this country, is disgusting.”

Kim Mireno, ally

CREDIT: mitú

“I just think about all of that effort we put in to making our community better and it’s taken away just like that. I love my community. I love El Sereno. I love all the students of Roosevelt, Garfield, East LA, Boyle Heights [high schools]. I do this for them, and I just get so worried thinking about what their future is going to look like. They put so much into this country. They deserve to be here. My nephew deserves to see a better world where it doesn’t matter what status you have. You have an equal opportunity to pursue your dreams,” Mireno says. “They are the bravest people I know. I can’t even say that I have an ounce of the courage that they have. I look to them. They are my leaders.”

Justino Mora, Dreamer and co-founder of Undocumedia

CREDIT: mitú

“I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic because I need to be. I have lost fear of this administration, of these white supremacists, because I understand that my community, that people power, is exactly what brings about change. We’ve seen this throughout history. The African-American community. The Civil Rights movement. The API community. Women fighting for the right to vote. We know that change is possible and that people power is greater than the people in power,” Mora says.

“My message to Congress is to get their act together. The Dream Act has been introduced several times. For more than 15 years, we’ve been fighting for the Dream Act or for comprehensive immigration reform,” he adds. “If they really mean what they say, they should pass it immediately. If they actually mean what they say about supporting undocumented youths, they should pass it tomorrow. That’s exactly what they should be doing, and they should pass other legislation to help the rest of the undocumented community come out of the shadows.”

Lauren Gonzales, ally

CREDIT: mitú

“I am documented but I see it affect everyone around me and I want them to see that I stand in solidarity with them, especially my boyfriend who is undocumented. So, I just want them to know that it’s really hard news. If this happens, they won’t be able to do a lot of what we’re able to do as citizens,” Gonzales says. “For my boyfriend, DACA made it so he was able to work. He was able to get his driver’s license. God forbid he ever gets detained to be deported. It would delay that. It’s helped him a lot with him supporting his family. I’ve seen it really help them because he really holds up his family and I’ve seen that.”

Yesenia Zavala, Dreamer and college student

CREDIT: mitú

“I’m very devastated because I know my parents sacrificed a lot to bring me to the United States. I was only a year old. I had no say in coming and to know that a man can just take all of my hopes and dreams away is just devastating,” Zavala says. “Because of DACA, I was able to get a job and go to school. I’m a full-time worker and a full-time student and with that I’m able to help my parents. I was able to get my own car. I have big dreams and hopes for myself and if that’s taken away, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Marisol Hernandez, Dreamer and educator

CREDIT: mitú

“I heard on the announcement that I am taking somebody’s job and I’m asking Trump, ‘Whose job am I taking?’ In my field, we’re short staffed and those kids need me. Whose job am I stealing? If you’re going to get somebody’s job, it’s because they didn’t deserve it. You get the job, fair and square. We’re not stealing anybody’s job and we’re not criminals. We’re teachers; we’re doctors. We’re not criminals,” Hernandez, an early education teacher assistant and teaching student, says.

“Please help us. Please. We’re humans, we’re not animals,” Hernandez adds as a plea to Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017. “They define us as ‘illegals’ and that’s a wrong term because calling us ‘illegals’ dehumanizes us. Please. We’re human. We want a better life. Help us.”


READ: The Trump Administration Has Officially Rescinded DACA. Here’s What You Need To Know.

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Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

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Joe Biden Promises To Fight For Dreamers If Elected In November

Biden For President / Flickr

An overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers. Hundreds of thousands of young adults rely on the protection from deportation and work authorization to live with dignity and out of the shadows. Presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to make sure they stay protected.

Dreamers are looking to a Biden administration to finish what an Obama administration started.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

According to the official Biden campaign website, the presidential nominee will work with Congress to reinstate DACA protections and to create a pathway to citizenship. DACA was won by undocumented activists putting fear aside and publicly fought to change the minds of Americans and politicans.

“Undocumented ‘youth’ are no longer youth,” says Moises Serrano, DACA activist and the man profiled in the documentary “Forbidden.” “DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants have been living in fear and instability for decades now. We survived eight years under the Obama administration and four years under the Trump administration. Immigration reform was promised under the Obama-Biden platform; a promise that is still unfulfilled.”

He added: “We hope that President Biden puts an end to the instability in our lives once and for all, or we are ready to hold him accountable in the same way we held Obama accountable in our fight for Administrative Relief.”

Biden’s policy proposes protecting Dreamers and helping them advance in this country.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

Biden promises to reinstate DACA to protect Dreamers and will be looking into ways to protect their families. The policy put forth by a potential Biden administration is pivotal in giving those who are DACA recipients a chance to live without fear and with all of the rights as their fellow citizens.

“After living through a deep loss in 2016 after losing my second mother and only being granted access to be on her deathbed in Mexico through my ability to get advanced parole through DACA I learned that no loss would ever be greater than that,” said Cindy Nava, a DACA recipient, political operative and policy advocate. “However, November rolled around and another loss took place. One that impacted my life, that of my family and my community.”

DACA is a very important issue as hundreds of thousands of Dreamers are on the line.

Credit: Biden For President / Flickr

People like Nava are hopeful that a Biden administration will bring that dignity back to the immigrant community. It is a community that is vibrant and has contributed vastly to American culture. A BIden administration would be a chance for Nava to see herself reflected in government.

“I am hopeful to see the daughter of immigrants, a woman of color, and a woman I can finally feel represented by be sworn in as the first woman VP of this country,” Nava says. “I will look forward to an administration that listens to the communities it intends to represent. An administration that empowers the entire country to work with each other to support, strengthen, respect and uplift each other each and every day. An administration that values and is grateful for the contributions that immigrants bring to the foundation of our country each and every day.”

Nava wants to see an immigration reform that puts immigrant humanity at the forefront. One that understands the needs for people to seek refuge and a better life in a foreign country.

“No immigrant seeks to find a fix on a silver platter. Nor do they believe that this will be an easy task,” Nava says. “The only thing our families ask for is a chance. Una oportunidad para recordarle a este pais that their lucha and determination comes from a deep sense of ganas to create a life filled with more opportunities than they ever had.”

The battle over DACA is far from over but it is clear that the Trump administration is on the wrong side of public opinion. Biden’s plan would strengthen DACA and restore the program to its full functionality.

READ: Trump Administration Limit DACA Renewals, Blocks New Applications

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President Trump Falsely Claimed That Covid Is To Blame For Ending DACA

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President Trump Falsely Claimed That Covid Is To Blame For Ending DACA

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference terminating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on behalf of the Trump administration. Since then hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients have lived in uncertainty. President Donald Trump tried to rewrite history at his town hall event Oct. 15.

President Donald Trump blamed the end of DACA on Covid during his town hall.

The truth is that President Trump’s administration attempted to end DACA in 2017. Former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was the attorney general at the time and made the announcement in a press conference. Since then, the Trump administration has continued to advance a lawsuit to terminate the program. DACA allows for hundreds of thousands of adults to work and live in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

Long before Covid, the Trump administration was told to resume DACA as intended.

Instead, the Trump administration has violated federal orders and continued to restrict DACA and those who can apply. The Supreme Court refused to hear arguments against DACA meaning that the lower court’s ruling stood. The ruling was that the Trump administration had to reinstate the program in full. However, the Supreme Court did not dismiss the case allowing for the administration to come back.

President Trump also claimed that DACA recipients and Dreamers are not that same.

Another falsehood by the president at the town hall. DACA recipients are indeed Dreamers. The term Dreamers does apply to DACA recipients who would benefit from the DREAM Act. The legislation would legally enshrine the protections of DACA and was introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois in 2001. Over the course of 19 years, the piece of legislation has not moved despite the overwhelming support from the American public.

People watching the town hall were quick to call out President Trump.

People are not letting President Trump get away with trying to rewrite history about DACA. His administration is the one trying to strip DACA recipients of their protections. At one point, President Trump tried using DACA recipients as political pawns in an attempt to secure funding for his border wall.

Voters are calling on other voters to help protect the program in November.

The two nominees have very different DACA plans. President Trump has and will continue to try to take away the protections from DACA recipients. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a plan to offer citizenship to DACA recipients, something American voters support. DACA is a wildly popular program that gives some of the most vulnerable people in our society a chance to live a normal life.

READ: The Trump Administration Has Officially Rescinded DACA. Here’s What You Need To Know.

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