With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling yesterday that the DACA program will remain intact, nearly 700,000 Dreamers will be allowed to stay in the U.S., continuing to contribute to society without fear of being deported. As of June 2019, there were 24,480 active DACA recipients in North Carolina, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an Obama program that allowed qualified individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children to have temporary legal status if they graduated from high school or were honorably discharged from the military, and if they passed a background check. Trump attempted to revoke DACA, but was blocked by the lower courts and, finally the Supreme court.
Professor Paul Cuadros, faculty chair of the Carolina Latinx Center (CLC), stated in a release, “The Carolina Latinx Center is heartened by the Supreme Court’s ruling today to preserve DACA and we are happy for our students and their families who are protected under the executive order.”
Jatzyri Perez Garcia, 19, a rising sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill, said, “I am so happy. I was prepared for the worst with this ruling and now hearing this news, I feel like my life has so much less uncertainty. Now I know I can get my degree and work.” Perez Garcia is pre-med and is planning on becoming a doctor.
But, for others, the uncertainty remains. “The ruling does not provide a permanent solution for our many students who do not have status or whose families are mixed status,” noted Cuadros.
Additionally, first-time new applicants to the program are not currently being accepted, which places a huge obstacle in the way of their access of higher education. Even for Dreams like Perez Garcia, they are not on equal footing with their North Carolina neighbors because they are forced to pay out-of-state tuition by the UNC System, rendering the cost far less affordable for them.
According to the National Immigration Law Center, at least 21 states and the District of Columbia have tuition equity laws that provide in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. There is hope that the new ruling will pave the way for legislative action that provides citizenship for Dreamers.
“In these uncertain times, the ruling by the Supreme Court provides some much needed relief,” said Josmell Perez, executive director of the CLC. “More needs to be done, but this is welcome news.”
To learn more about DACA, consider registering for UndocuCarolina training program. Information can be found here.