Supreme Court decision buoys local Dreamers as DACA applications, protections to resume

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. (The Enterprise/Rachel Parsons)

The Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program will continue following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday, June 18.

The decision means that people who immigrated to the United States as children and without documents can now apply for or continue in the program to work, study and live without fear of deportation.

“To be completely honest, as soon as I got the news, I had to fight back tears,” Norma Ramirez said.

Ramirez is the programs manager of an Ontario-based Latino advocacy nonprofit Euvalcree, and a DACA recipient herself. 

Last year, she couldn’t travel to Mexico to say goodbye to her dying grandfather because of a court order in place at the time, now overturned by Thursday’s ruling. A federal judge in New York had ruled that DACA recipients couldn’t get advance parole – allowing international travel for people who might not be allowed to normally – and denied any future DACA applications. The ruling allowed people who already had DACA status to continue benefiting from the program.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration acted carelessly in trying to end the DACA program, which allowed the court to declare the attempt unlawful.

Ramirez hopes foreign travel will be allowed for the 649,000 immigrants with DACA status, but it’s not certain what the program will look like in the future or if it will continue.

As of December, 9,760 DACA recipients lived in Oregon.

Diana Telefson Torres, United Farm Workers Foundation executive director, praised the decision in a written statement.

“While the ruling is a victory in the midst of continued attacks against communities of color, the fight for justice for all immigrants is not done. The movement for racial justice demands opportunities, equity, divestment from racist systems and investments in Black communities and communities of color.”

Gabe Fuentes works closely with a handful of undocumented students through the Migrant Education Program he administers at the Nyssa School District, and said the sense of relief is overwhelming.

A handful of his former students are DACA recipients and current college students who he said have been living in fear for the past two years wondering if their lives were going to change. Two of them called him in celebration after they heard the news, and some of them texted.

“I think that we’re realistic with knowing that DACA is not forever. But now it gives us the chance to keep on fighting and keep it, and we’re used to that. We’re used to the work and the struggle,” Fuentes said.

Gov. Kate Brown touted Oregon’s history of immigration law.

“Oregon will always be a welcoming, safe place for all. Our 33-year-old sanctuary law prevents Oregon from enforcing federal immigration law, and I will uphold this law and stand with Oregonian Dreamers,” she said in a statement.

The Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 split that the procedure used to cancel DACA violated administrative law, but left the door open for the program to be canceled if the process was redone. The program was created in 2012 by the Obama administration.

 News tip or story suggestion? Contact reporter Aidan McGloin at [email protected] or 541-473-3377.


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