SCOTUS to Decide Fate of 700,000+ DACA Recipients Like Me
By Vanessa Meraz
After the Trump Administration terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September 2017, life changed for those of us lucky enough to have benefited from the program. For five years, we had been given a newfound sense of hope and opportunity through DACA, only to be left with insecurity and fear once more. Thankfully, several lawsuits seeking an injunction have blocked the program’s termination, allowing current recipients like me to continue to renew our protections but cutting off new applications. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on November 12, and once again, our futures will remain uncertain until the Court decides whether to uphold the injunction.
As we await the Court’s decision, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is the importance of current beneficiaries renewing their DACA before it expires to maintain continuity in their status. But that is not easy for everyone given the $495 fee that’s due every two years—it certainly wasn’t for me. Throughout my four years as an undergraduate and first-generation college student, I did everything in my power to minimize the cost of education. As a DACA recipient, state and federal financial aid were not readily available, and I felt the financial responsibility of putting myself through school so my parents could focus on making ends meet. Despite securing private funding through merit-based scholarships, I worked two jobs and commuted from home to afford my education—all while ensuring that I did well academically as a full-time student. That $495 could have gone toward rent, my mother’s medical bills, or tuition, but it was also necessary to hold on to my status.
Second, we must recognize the administration’s attacks on DACA are part of a larger scheme to undermine the wellbeing of the immigrant community. No person should have to choose between putting food on the table or remaining with their family. Yet, while administration leaders are trying to strip away DACA protections, they are simultaneously making it more difficult for immigrants to get fee waivers for their immigration applications and introducing detrimental policies such as the public charge rule that would make it harder for immigrant families with low incomes to achieve long-term status.
Third, it’s imperative to remember that DACA benefits both recipients and their families and communities. Because of DACA, more than 700,000 Dreamers like me are teachers, students, doctors, entrepreneurs, public servants, lawyers, engineers, social workers, business owners, and more. DACA allows us to seek financial security, enabling three quarters of DACA recipients to increase their earnings and help their families financially—including the means to support the 256,000 U.S. citizen children whose parents are DACA beneficiaries.
I am grateful and privileged to be working at CLASP, an anti-poverty organization that recognizes DACA as an important tool for fighting generational poverty and that advocates for an inclusive legislative solution that would provide all Dreamers with a pathway to citizenship. Such a pathway would consider the needs of Dreamers who may have low incomes, be raising children, or in need of additional support to pay for college.
As we approach November’s Supreme Court oral arguments, CLASP will continue to defend the preservation of DACA. We have joined with child advocacy groups, medical experts, and health care providers on a legal brief focused on the harm that will be inflicted on children whose parents have DACA if the Court doesn’t uphold the injunction. Despite the devastation that the Trump Administration has already caused, I remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will help halt this senseless attempt to end DACA and cause further harm.
For more information and resources on DACA, visit CLASP’s Resources on the Future of DACA.
To help DACA recipients with renewal, visit the #HomeIsHere Campaign DACA Renewal Fund.
See the legal brief filed by child health experts and advocates describing the impact of rescinding DACA on children of beneficiaries here.