The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the Trump Administration could not terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, which protects about 700,000 young immigrants — …
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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the Trump Administration could not terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, which protects about 700,000 young immigrants — commonly referred to as “Dreamers” — from deportation and gives them permission to legally work in a renewable two-year time period.
The program, which was implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012, was set to be repealed in 2017 by the Trump Administration with claims that the program was unconstitutional and illegal by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This plan launched many lawsuits against the program’s repeal.
Last Thursday, in a 5-4 ruling, the Court found that the Trump Administration did not provide adequate justification for its repeal. Chief Justice John Roberts gave the opinion.
“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” he wrote. “The wisdom of those decisions is none of our concern. Here we address only whether the Administration complied with the procedural requirements in the law that insist on ‘a reasoned explanation for its action.’”
In North Carolina, according to the American Immigration Council, 24,260 active DACA recipients lived in the state as of 2019, while DACA has been granted to 92,374 people in total since 2012. As of 2019, 64% of DACA-eligible immigrants in North Carolina had applied for DACA. In 2015, about 31,000 high school students in North Carolina were undocumented — one of the largest undocumented high school populations in the country.
For Siler City’s Janet Ramirez, 27, Thursday’s decision filled her with shock and relief.
“I feel like myself and others prepared for all the negative outcomes,” she said. “I’ll speak for myself, I saw this as a loss already.”
Ramirez, the program and volunteer coordinator for The Hispanic Liaison/El Vínculo Hispano, is a native of Michoacán, Mexico. She moved to Siler City with her family in 2000 when she was just 8, and she’s been a DACA recipient since 2015.
Ramirez said she was frustrated by arguments against the program.
“You’ve been raised here, you’ve been educated here and for them to not recognize that is very disappointing,” she said.
Ramirez also said she wanted Congress to create a “clear pathway” to citizenship for DACA recipients.
“This is not a permanent fix, this is something temporary,” she said. “We’re here to stay. A lot of us DACA recipients are helping the community and making a difference within our work, within our jobs and within our careers. We are more than deserving of having something more permanent. It’s not fair for us to be on this rollercoaster, going back and forth.”
Hannia Benitez, 28, is the president of the board of directors for The Hispanic Liaison/El Vínculo Hispano. A native of Tecun Uman, Guatemala, she was raised in Siler City and has been a DACA recipient since 2013. She hopes the public will become aware as a result of this decision.
“We’re really hopeful that there is more education to the general public so that they can understand that we want to help this country,” Benitez said. “This is our home, this is all we know. We want to be able to give back to our communities.”
Although it remains unclear for students whether the DACA program will be taking new applications, Tych Cowdin, the executive director of Communities In Schools Chatham County — whose mission is to surround students with a network of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life — said the organization stands with all community members.
“We love and fully support all of our community members, especially those who continue to live in uncertainty of what their future may hold without any clear pathway to citizenship,” he said. “These are our classmates and community leaders, family and friends, who make our country a better place through their diversity and strength of spirit. We will continue to stand and support all individuals who seek to make a better life for themselves and their families.”
News Intern Olivia Rojas can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @oliviamrojas.