The future of deferred action hangs by a thread — the U.S. Supreme Court put the policy termination on hold Monday after a lower court blocked President Donald Trump’s rescindment of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The policy promised safety and protection for thousands of undocumented children and adults all over the country. In September, Trump announced that it would be wound down.
Throughout 2017, Trump worked to abolish the policy. Beginning last January, he eliminated the privacy protections for recipients, making them vulnerable to being tracked by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
“The day it was announced that Trump was rescinding [it], it felt like my world was falling apart,” said Camila Poblete, a 21-year-old student who has been a DACA recipient for over three years. “Judge Alsup’s block of Trump’s decision was huge. Everyday I worry that it will get overturned before I can reapply.”
DACA was passed in 2012 by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration and gave undocumented children who came to the U.S. the opportunity to finish their education.
As of Feb. 15, all four immigration reform bills that went to Senate did not pass, but Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley remains hopeful for Dreamers on campus. Conoley said she is confident that come March 5, campus advocates will have DACA recipients’ backs.
“All four of my grandparents were immigrants,” said President Conoley. “I grew up in New York looking at the Statue of Liberty…and as a kid growing up in a very diverse city surrounded by groups of ethnicities I thought, ‘This is what our country is.’”
Conoley said she has remained true to those beliefs, which have fueled her passion to help these young men and women fight for their right to stay, work and study in the U.S.
“We are pushing on all fronts,” Conoley said. “This is a cruel limbo that we have put students in…They’ve grown up as Americans and here we [the government] are punishing them for something they didn’t do.”
Conoley said she has made it her goal to let recipients on campus know that “We Are One Beach” and that the administration is pushing for advocacy on state and federal levels.
“If I had the opportunity to talk to each [undocumented student], I would say, ‘don’t give up hope,’” said Rafael Topete, director of The Dream Success Center on campus. “We need to continue to have successes to share. This is a roadblock and hopefully we are able to get beyond it.”
The center, which opened in 2015, works to ensure that students have the necessary resources and support services at the university.
“When I transferred here I had no idea how supportive CSULB was toward undocumented students such as myself,” Poblete said. “I trust I am safe on campus. President Conoley has been very supportive, letting us know that the campus and university police is not allowed to give information to ICE agents. The Undocumented Resource Center is also the biggest resource I know to navigate this whole ordeal. Students in need can receive a grant to cover DACA renewal expenses.”
Following the rescindment, President Trump offered Congress a chance to resurrect the policy. Recently, he expressed that he would like to open up citizenship to recipients in about 10 to 12 years.
“I think the flip-flopping situation is a matter of trying to please the Republican Party,” said Carolina Pilar Xique, a theatre major who is currently working on a play about DACA. “But I also know that he and the rest of Congress and the White House must have some sense of how important Dreamers are to this country and economy. I think Congress knows there needs to be immigration reform, but they’re dangling this threat over our heads to scare us, to intimidate immigrants.”
Conoley encouraged students to take advantage of all of the resources available to students on campus.
“This is not a time for sides,” Conoley said. “It’s time to do the right thing.”
Divine Paguio contributed to this article.