Tuesday’s announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions about ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has left many of American River College’s undocumented students wondering what lies ahead for their futures in the next six months.
DACA was an immigration policy enacted by the Obama administration in June 2012 to defer deportation proceedings and allow eligibility for work permits for illegal immigrants who entered the United States as minors on a two-year renewable basis.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s DACA “Frequently Asked Questions,” page, “Current law does not grant any legal status for the class of individuals who are current recipients of DACA. Recipients of DACA are currently unlawfully present in the U.S. with their removal deferred.”
Since DACA has ended, protections from deportation and employment authorization documents (EADs) for recipients are set to expire on September 5, 2019 at the very latest.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley released a statement on September 5 stating that “Ending DACA is a heartless and senseless decision that goes against American ideals and basic human decency. Those who are affected by this decision were brought to this country as children and are pursuing an education and making contributions to their communities.”
The statement also said that the California Community Colleges will “remain committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status and to providing safe and welcoming environments in which to learn. We will do all within our power to assist students affected by this decision, and we will advocate tirelessly in Congress for a permanent resolution to this issue.”
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit the issue!”
Shortly after his tweet, multiple influential representatives on both sides of the aisle in Congress came out to denounce the decision made by the Trump administration and promised to work towards legislation that would give legal status to recipients.
A statement to ARC faculty by the Community College League of California said that “The callous decision by the Trump Administration to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is antithetical to American values and abandons the promise made to over 800,000 individuals pursuing the American Dream. This shortsighted political calculation inhibits the aspirations of 222,795 Californians.”
At noon on Wednesday, a group of concerned ARC students, including DACA recipients, as well as faculty held a “DACA Brave Space Discussion” in the Student Center Board Room to discuss what comes next.
While open to all on campus to attend, it was asked that privacy and confidentiality be respected.
Students were asked not to share another attendee’s story unless otherwise permitted by the individual.
Two pages with links to resources for undocumented students were also provided by members of ARC’s Puente Program at the meeting.
The resources include links to legal resources and legislation, undocumented student centers, allied organizations, conferences & workshops, scholarships, documentaries as well as books and publications.
On Thursday during Clubs Day, representatives for the Coalition for Undocumented Students and Allies, a resource listed by the Puente Program, said they were unwilling to be interviewed by The Current for this story.
Other DACA students on campus that were approached for this story declined to be interviewed for fear of outing themselves publicly as undocumented.