The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, is currently undergoing a judgment process in the Supreme Court. The decision will determine the residential status for more than 700,000 DACA recipients, per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services, a 2016 Census estimates Texas ranking as the second highest state in America behind California in terms of DACA population. At the time 124,300 DACA recipients were approved in the state.
“I got enrolled when I was 15,” said Ilse Torres, multimedia and marketing production student at TJC. “My mom brought me to meet a lawyer that guided me through the process. I remember driving all the way to Dallas to fill out paperwork, do fingerprinting, pretty much to become fully documented. After that you coordinate with the social security offices, who provide you with a personal social security number.”
The process is similar to how immigration is pursued in America, except in this case the reality of a DACA recipient’s citizenship status rests in the balance of a political battle. According to President Donald Trump, “President Obama said he had no legal right to sign the [DACA] order, but would anyway.” The argument being that Obama’s signing of DACA has no legal standing according to immigration law in America.
This is where the controversy surrounding DACA gets interesting. The Trump administration has already attempted to negotiate the DACA program to acquire wall funding from leading Democrats, but this has been consistently shot down. If the Trump administration is willing to negotiate DACA terms, is the order truly a violation of the law, or rather a harsh interpretation of the law? What does DACA truly mean?
“To me it just means to be progressive,” Torres said. “Keep on striving for everything you want in life. I don’t want to live in fear that I’m going to get taken away, so I try not to focus on the status of DACA. I just check in on it at times.”
Torres is the second in her family to enroll into the DACA program and because of her enrollment she is able to pursue higher education. DACA recipients essentially have the same freedoms to pursue education as any American citizen.
In the past, Republicans have dealt with other types of immigration policies similar to DACA, and if compared to the Reagan administration, the current situation is practically identical. On Nov. 6, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, known as IRCA.
IRCA had two stipulations. It altered U.S. immigration law making it illegal to knowingly hire immigrants who entered the country illegally, and established financial penalties for companies that employed immigrants who came to the country illegally. The second stipulation draws similarities to DACA. All immigrants who arrived in the country illegally prior to Jan. 1, 1982, were given permanent citizenship.
DACA is essentially a temporary version to IRCA. While Obama created an executive order to push through immigration policy, Reagan signed a congressional act. Currently, the country awaits the ruling of the Supreme Court regarding the status of Obama’s executive order.
Fear may be the consuming emotion of many DACA recipients, but Torres believes that this can be used as a tool to propel her forwards.
“Don’t be as afraid. You just have to keep moving forward. If you want to pursue something, just go for it, Torres said. “Even with fear, use it to your advantage.”