Story at a glance

  • The Trump administration rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2017.
  • Now, the Supreme Court has overturned that decision, saying the Department of Homeland Security did not follow proper procedures.
  • There are more than 600,000 active DACA recipients in the United States today.

Armando Serrano was driving home from work after a graveyard shift when he heard the news: The Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration's plan to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, saying the administration failed to give adequate justification for the move. He was safe. 

Serrano, 25, is a DACA recipient, which has enabled him to work his way through school, obtain a Bachelors of Science degree in Bioinformatics and be accepted into medical school at the University of Utah. But since the Department of Homeland Security announced their decision to rescind the program in 2017, he’s been waiting for this day. 

“I’ve been awaiting every Supreme Court decision day with a lot of anxiety because it's my entire life on the line – my ability to drive, to work, to go to school,” Serrano said. “It’s a big relief to not feel like I have an expiration date, like a carton of milk.” 


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Born in Mexico, Serrano arrived in the United States on July 4, Independence Day, when he was only 2 years old. He’s safe now, but there’s more to do, he said. 

President Obama passed DACA in 2012, allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. 

There are about 660,000 active DACA recipients in the United States today, 81 percent of whom were born in Mexico. More than 250,000 U.S. citizens are the children of DACA recipients, according to the Center for American Progress. And an estimated 27,000 are health care workers, many of whom are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic — which the Supreme Court considered in their decision. DACA recipients also pay an estimated $1.7 billion a year in taxes, according to a 2018 report

For Juan Escalante, another one of those DACA recipients, the decision was validating, but he called on Congress to go a step further and pass the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 

“Today is an exciting day for the immigrant community, specifically for DACA recipients across the country. Once again the courts, and in this case the Supreme Court, has stood by the Dreamers and told the President that his attempts to nullify the DACA program were illegal,” he said in a statement. “To the Trump administration, they should back off from any attacks on the DACA program and not use us as pawns in their anti-immigrant attacks ahead of the election.”


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On social media other DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants shared their reactions to the Supreme Court decision. 

Adrián Escárate, 31, never slept well the night before Supreme Court decisions were announced, knowing that his future as a DACA recipient hung in the balance. When he logged onto Twitter this morning, his confusion quickly turned to shock. 

“It was like a whirlwind roller coaster of feelings,” he said.

Escárate was born in Chile but moved to Miami when he was 3 years old. When the DACA program was first announced, he was scared to apply and send over his paperwork to the federal government. But he was approved in mid-2014 and just renewed his status a few months ago, despite the uncertainty of the program’s future and challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.  

Now a tennis coach living in the Bay Area, he manages communications for Define American, a campaign to change the narrative and shape the discussion of immigration and citizenship in the United States. 

“Even in this moment of the uprising for black liberation and racial equality and equity, we know that and we see that immigrant justice is a racial justice issue,” he said. “[Define American is] trying to expand that narrative and be inclusive and know that we don’t have two different fights. We have to show up together in the fight for equality and justice.”


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Published on Jun 18, 2020