The rush of emotions felt the morning of his high school graduation came back to Norberto Lopez when he learned that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program intact, rejecting President Donald Trump’s appeal to dismiss it.
“My mom came into my room, woke me up and said, ‘Did you hear? The Supreme Court ruled in favor of DACA.’ And I was like, ‘What? What did you say?’” Lopez said. “It just reminded me of June 15, 2012, when I was waking up from grad night getting ready for graduation.”
In the summer of 2012, Lopez received news that DACA protections, put forth by President Barack Obama that year, were granted to him, which opened up opportunities for him to work and go to school without the fear of deportation. Since then, the program has helped over 700,000 undocumented immigrants find jobs and establish themselves in American societies.
Lopez was born in Mexico and came to the United States at the age of 1 in 1995. Twenty-five years later, Lopez is currently a member of the Long Beach Residents Empowered organization, which assists tenants with renter support and housing equality.
The safety net of the DACA permit allowed Lopez to travel all over the country, from Washington D.C. to join immigration coalitions to San Diego to volunteer with support groups at the border asylums.
“The fear was so big when I didn’t have a permit, that even going to San Diego was a problem—because of the border,” Lopez said. “I don’t think I would have been able to assist at the asylum shelter with the San Diego Organizing project.”
While the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday seems to be a major win for DACA supporters, there is speculation that the Trump administration may attempt to narrow down a second attempt to challenge the program again.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. stated in the court’s 5-4 ruling that the manner in which Trump’s appeal was presented was not justified, but he didn’t say that the court’s decision was based on DACA’s function being unconstitutional or not.
While a second appeal may be likely, Jason Whitehead, associate professor of political science at Cal State Long Beach, believes it would be unlikely given the upcoming elections.
“It’s an election year,” Whitehead said. “The Trump administration could simply issue a new executive order going into more detail about the reasons why they’re winding down the program, and they could end it. But the problem is they’re going to get sued immediately, and that lawsuit is going to drag on through the fall, through the elections.
“It’s a political decision about whether that’s the narrative they want to put forward during an election year, especially when Trump is slumping the polls right now.”
In a scenario where DACA was to go away, Lopez said it wouldn’t stop him from volunteering with community groups, but the impact to the local community and undocumented tenants who live in the city would be bigger.
“They have children who are in the same program as I am,” he said. “To all those with permits, how much more of an impact would that have on Long Beach–through displacement? It would be major.”
While DACA proves to be a safety net for some, there are others who don’t have similar protections.
Gaby Hernandez, organizer with the Long Beach Immigrants Rights Coalition and DACA recipient, told the Long Beach Post she’s content about the court’s ruling, but is concerned with the millions of other undocumented people left out of such programs.
“It’s a Band-aid solution,” she said. “There are families that still can’t apply for government aid. It doesn’t protect my mom.”
Hernandez added that the DACA ruling should not be a diversion from the recent Black Lives Matter protests denouncing police violence against communities of color—stating that there are many Black undocumented immigrants as well.
“There’s still a long fight ahead of us,” Hernandez said.
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