MC students who are DACA recipients or supporters, along with alumni, joined about 900 people at the National Mall in Washington, DC on March 5, the day the Deferred Action for Childhood (DACA) program was set to end.
“I’m here fighting for my community’s dignity as well as my own,” said Alejandra Coreas, DACA recipient and student at the MC Rockville Campus, as she rallied toward the Capitol building holding a banner. “I want Congress to propose bipartisan legislation. We’ve been subject to cruel amounts of uncertainty since Trump rescinded DACA, and I think this is a justice that our community deserves.”
The deadline was set after President Donald Trump announced on Sept. 5, 2017, that he was rescinding DACA and gave Congress six months to decide its future. On Jan. 9, a federal judge in California ruled that the program could remain in place while legal challenges were resolved in court, which temporarily blocked the decision. A month later a second federal judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking the Trump administration from ending DACA.
The U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has since resumed accepting renewal applications, but not for new young people.
“There are 120,000 kids in middle school and high school who need protection. They are starting to turn 15 and could apply for the program, but now they will be at risk of deportation,” said Juan Manuel Guzman, MC alumnus, and advocacy and policy manager for United We Dream. “We need a permanent solution because we don’t have any way of planning for the future. We don’t know what will happen in court [after the Justice Department tried to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, which rejected to hear it until the administration goes the normal route of appealing to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California first.]”
Despite the latest court decision, those whose DACA protection was set to expire after March 5 may still be impacted. Since renewals are taking longer to process, some might not receive their renewal before their DACA expires, leaving a gap in DACA status and benefits, such as work authorization.
“We know that less than 10 percent of recipients was able to renew their protection and there are about 14,000 application in process,” Guzman said.
Leopoldo Elias, president of the student senate at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, said people are still vulnerable. “The court orders are in place to extend the deadline, but there is still fear that Dreamers will lose their licenses to work. Many of them study and work at the same time.” DACA recipients are commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act that would have provided similar protections for young immigrants.
“Congress still needs to look at this as an urgent matter,” Elias said. In the middle of midterms, he decided to join the rally to show support for his friends and family who are affected.
“I am so proud that MC students and alumni are advocating so publicly for DACA students,” said MC President DeRionne Pollard. “The uncertainty that these students’ experience is real and they deserve the chance to further their education like other Americans. Montgomery College stands ready to support these deserving students as they struggle for their version of the American Dream.”