In the midst of a government face-off over immigration reform, organizations continue to help young immigrants secure temporary support.
Just one week after a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Justice Department announced on Jan. 16 that it would seek the Supreme Court’s approval to cease deportation relief and work sanctions for undocumented youth.
Some young immigrants are rushing to renew their DACA permits, while others are continuing to push legislators to seek permanent solutions to secure their legal status.
“We are not surprised by the decision from the Justice Department to appeal the injunction,” said Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice Director Javier Hernandez. “However, we find these actions to be against the will of the American people.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Jan. 13 that it would be accepting applications for DACA renewals only. Those looking to apply for the first time will not be allowed to do so.
A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University demonstrates that about 79 percent (or 8 in 1) of American voters support allowing undocumented youth to remain in the U.S. It is for that reason that Hernandez believes that DACA–while not a permanent solution–will bring peace of mind to Dreamers.
Hernandez said his group, along with the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective, Mi Familia Vota, Catholic Charities, and the San Bernardino Community Service Center are helping young immigrants renew their work permits.
“We look forward to assisting eligible youth with their renewals and demand that the administration end their attacks on immigrant youth and their families,” he said.
Rep. Aguilar and colleagues introduce DACA/border solution bill
Disagreements over DACA recipients and border enforcement may lead to a government shutdown on January 19, according to the Associated Press.
Nonetheless, some federal representatives continue to work on a solution that will protect immigrant youth from deportation and bring forward “common sense” solutions to help defend the southern border.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino), Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) introduced the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act on Thursday evening. The bill, if passed, will give DACA recipients temporary legal status if they have completed school or enlisted in the military and do not have a criminal record.
The USA Act also intends to increase the number of immigration judges to reduce court backlogs and achieve “operational control” of the border by 2020 through technology and physical barriers.
“For too long, Congress has asked hundreds of thousands of young people to put their lives on hold while we play politics with their futures,” said Rep. Aguilar. “One of my top priorities is to ensure that these young people can continue the lives they’ve built here, and the USA Act will do just that.”
Some immigration advocates are concerned further border enforcement may lead to more raids and surveillance. However, Aguilar said during a press conference at Cal State San Bernardino on January 13 that the Department of Homeland Security will be required to provide detailed reports on how much barriers will cost and does not add to interior enforcement.
“We felt pairing a DACA fix that is as extensive as possible with some reasonable border measures makes sense,” Aguilar said.
Without DACA protections, students fear future may be bleak
For San Bernardino Valley College students Jacqueline Rodriguez, 18, and Marianna, 19, their future is bleak.
They were unable to apply for DACA after graduating from high school and are now concerned about their future in the country. They can’t apply for federal financial aid or any jobs.
“Even though they are undocumented immigrants like us, DACA recipients have some opportunities” said Rodriguez. “They can get a job. We can’t unless it’s under the table. And we don’t want to risk it. If we get caught, we won’t ever have a chance to become citizens.”
Despite their experiences and fears of deportation, the two students believe current legislative efforts to find a permanent solution is, “a step in the right direction.”
“This will benefits us,” said Marianna. “But what about my parents? What about their futures?”