By Yazmin Nunez

Fear has not kept the nation’s 800,000 DACA recipients quiet. Instead, the rescinding of DACA that President Donald Trump announced in September prompted many Dreamers to come out of the shadows and share their personal stories.

Some scrambled recently to renew their work permits before the October 5 deadline. Now, many are urging Congress to come up with a long-term solution to their uncertain futures.

When former President Barack Obama launched Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) with an executive order in 2012, it was seen as a Band-Aid for the overall immigration problem in the United States. But five years later, Trump repealed DACA, ripping off the Band-Aid which protects approximately 800,000 Dreamers from deportation and allows them to work legally in the country. DACA applied only to undocumented immigrants who were under 31 as of June 15, 2012; came to the United States while under the age of 16; and have continuously resided here since June 15, 2007.  It protected these young people from deportation and allowed them to work legally with renewable two-year permits.

President Trump has given Congress six months to come up with a long-term solution for the Dreamers. A deeply divided Congress has until March 5 to come together around immigration policy, one of the most difficult issues in modern politics.

With DACA ending, the future for Dreamers remains a gray area. Politicians are trying to meet the president’s deadline and provide alternatives.

On September 13, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, both Democrats, announced  that they had come to an agreement with Trump regarding Dreamers. “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” they said in a statement.

On Sunday, Oct. 8, the White House released a list of hard-line demands which could derail such legislation, including building a southern border wall and a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities.

The pressure on Trump to end the program intensified last summer when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with nine other Republican attorneys general, threatened to sue Trump if he did not terminate DACA by September 5, claiming DACA was an unlawful overreach by former President Obama.

While the clock is ticking, the future is uncertain.  At least 16 states and the District of Columbia have sued the United States government, alleging that the Trump Administration has violated the Constitution and laws in rescinding the program. The University of California also filed its own suit.

And senators have introduced several proposals to replace DACA, among them an amended bipartisan Dream Act, introduced in July by Senators Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Richard Durbin, D-Ill. The amended bill would grant Dreamers a phased path to citizenship with a very narrow window of eligibility, similar to DACA. GOP Senators Thom Tillis. R-NC, and James Lankford, R-OK, introduced a competing bill, the more conservative Succeed Act. It would offer Dreamers permanent resident status, and, eventually, citizenship, but through a longer path in comparison with the amended Dream Act.

Most Dreamers have always seen DACA as little more than a Band Aid, given that it was established by executive order rather than law. Still, many believe it saved their lives. In this edition, we share a range of perspectives from Dreamers. Some reached out to us after we asked community members on social media for their stories. Our youth reporters found others — neighbors, friends and schoolmates.

The fast- approaching deadline worries members of the entire undocumented community, who, in one form or another, feel deeply connected to the issue. DACA recipients have benefited from the ability to pursue an education and to earn wages. For many Dreamers, these opportunities  have had positive impacts on their lives and their families. Overall, the community recognizes the importance of staying informed and sees the impending end to as a hurdle in the continuing struggles of their families, neighbors and friends.

Illustration above by Stephanie Varela for Boyle Heights Beat.

Yazmin Nunez is a former Boyle Heights Beat reporter and a Dreamer. She is a senior at California State University, Long Beach.

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Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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