United States Supreme Court saves DACA, brings relief to local Dreamers | VailDaily.com

United States Supreme Court saves DACA, brings relief to local Dreamers

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients listen to speakers during a news conference in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the DACA program Thursday. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled President Donald Trump improperly ended the program that protects immigrants brought to the country as children and allows them to legally work, keeping the people enrolled in DACA.
Ross D. Franklin | AP

Following a 5-4 vote Thursday in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, the United States Supreme Court blocked President Donald Trump’s bid to end the program that protects nearly 700,000 undocumented youth.

This means DACA recipients who entered the U.S. undocumented as children, most born in Mexico and other Latin American countries, will continue to be protected from deportation and will be able to renew their work permits every two years.

This ruling affects more than 17,000 Colorado recipients, also known as Dreamers, many of them active members of the Eagle County community who have grown up here and are now contributing to society.

“In Colorado alone, DACA recipients contribute more than $59 million in state and local taxes and $113 million in federal taxes,” wrote Voces Unidas de las Montañas, a Roaring Fork Valley organization that works to raise Latino voices in the region. 

After hearing about the Supreme Court decision to save the DACA program, Marisol García of Avon could not contain her tears.

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“It was really hard to believe. When I read that I felt a sense of relief,” she said. “It was scary not knowing what was going to happen with your life, but I’m so emotional because I’m so happy.”

García was born in Villanueva, Zacatecas, Mexico but was brought to the United States when she was just three months old and says this country has become her home. She received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Colorado Mesa University and now works for Eagle County.

Christian Espinoza had just finished assisting a surgery at Vail Health Hospital when he found out of the Supreme Court ruling.

“I checked my cell phone and my coworker had sent me a message about what had happened, because I didn’t know yet. I felt happy and a sense of relief,” he said.

Espinoza works as a surgical technician at Vail Health, and plans to continue his master’s degree to become a physician’s assistant. 

‘DACA means hope’

In the hours following the Supreme Court decision, several major institutions shared their joy and commitment to continue helping DREAMers.

“We offer our unwavering support for our DACA and immigrant students and families. These students bring a tremendous amount of diversity to campuses across the nation, especially here in Colorado,” the Colorado Department of Higher Education wrote in a news release. “Our nation and institutions have invested in the success of these students and the continued existence of DACA is essential to ensure the career and life success of these immigrant youth.”

Like many Dreamers, Abigail Aguilera was able to continue her education thanks to the DACA program, receiving her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Colorado Mesa University.

“Thanks to DACA, it made it easier for me to receive in-state tuition, so that was a big deal,” Aguilera said. “Also, attending school became a reality, as before I saw it as something that was not a possibility for me. To this day, my life has changed because I was able to continue studying and now I have a job doing something I enjoy.”

College tuition is always more affordable to in-state residents, a privilege that undocumented students do not have in many states. However, as in the case of Aguilera, DACA makes in-state tuition a possibility. 

Similarly, José Macias says that DACA has opened many doors for him.

“I am currently studying at Colorado Mountain College and will receive my associate’s degree in business. I plan to transfer to Metropolitan State University to receive my bachelor’s degree in finance,” he said. “Thanks to DACA I also have a stable job that allows me to pay for my education … for me, DACA means hope.”

Looking into the future

Although Dreamers view the Supreme Court decision to save DACA as a victory, they are also aware that it is not a permanent solution and there is still work to be done regarding the future of this program.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who serves Colorado’s 7th District, highlighted the importance of having a permanent solution for Dreamers in a press release.

“With today’s ruling providing only temporary relief, it’s more important than ever that the Senate passes the Dream and Promise Act to ensure these young Americans can continue living their lives in the only home they’ve ever known,” he wrote. 

Voces Unidas de las Montañas also posted a petition asking the readers to sign it to demand that Congress pass the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. This legislation, which has already been approved by the House of Representatives, presents a path to citizenship for Dreamers and others.

García, Espinoza, Aguilera and Macias believe that the federal government must move toward permanent protection for Dreamers.

“We are here to do good; most of the students with DACA have demonstrated that they are working, they are contributing to the United States either by paying their taxes, paying for school, buying cars, properties, whatever. We are not a public charge,” Espinoza said.

“I think I share the same idea as most Dreamers, that we want an amnesty,” added Aguilera. “All of us who have DACA demonstrate that we are good people but we are always on the margins. I hope that someday we can receive permanent residence.” 

“Maybe we were not born here, but it is the only thing we know,” she said. 

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