DREAMers continue to advocate for citizenship following Supreme Court decision

On Thursday, June 18 in a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the Trump administration’s attack on 700,000 undocumented immigrants. Specifically, it ruled that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had violated the Administrative Procedure Act and unlawfully rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in failing to distinguish between protection from deportation and retaining the benefits that came with DACA.

Under the 2012 Obama program, children brought into the United States before their sixteenth birthday and have remained in the country since June 2007 were given temporary legal status. This status relies on the individual meeting other criteria such as graduating high school and not having been convicted of a criminal offense.

With the recent decision, DACA is back in place as it was in 2012. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in conjunction with the DHS will continue to accept renewal applications and must now accept new and advanced parole applications.

This victory is attributed in part to public outcry and campus leaders across the nation, like second-year aerospace engineering student, Lizeth Gallegos. November 2019, she, and her mother, with the assistance of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), participated in the national #HomeIsHere march from New York to Washington, D.C. Starting herself in Maryland, Gallegos joined 200 others as they walked the 230 miles over 18 days to reach the capitol.

“It was a really powerful moment to experience, because you see all these people that are united for one cause,” she said, “When I first heard (of the decision), I was happy but seeing the president’s response to the outcome … I felt kind of defeated. But not really because I know that there is so much more left to fight for.”

“Moran and Lizeth Gallegos walked to Washington D.C. in the “Home is Here” march.”
(Courtesy of Lizeth Gallegos)

While the Supreme Court’s decision is a reprieve it does not completely remand the administration’s power to terminate DACA. With this in mind, representatives at CPP are rallying to continue to protect undocumented rights and provide support on campus.

In the June 26 livestreamed townhall meeting hosted by the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity, panelists met to explain what the court ruling means for students and their families. The discussion included CSU staff attorney Elda Rosales, Mecir A. Ureta Rivera, coordinator for Undocumented Student Services (BDRC), and Francis Teves, assistant vice president for Government and External Affairs.

Rosales works with Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) and in partnership with CPP. She is available to students, staff, faculty and their families for free legal services as they navigate their status. She recommended that students submit renewals as early as a year in advance and stressed the importance of taking advantage of legal services during this time. As of writing this article, the DHS have yet to respond with any change or update in their new application or advanced paroles policy guidelines. Yet, the announcement can come at any time.

“If we file (new applications) without those policies coming out and their application isn’t in line with them, then it could get rejected,” she explained.

(Courtesy of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity)

Mecir A. Ureta Rivera followed up with more information directly regarding the CPP community. Many incoming students question their ability to access higher education, and Ureta Rivera emphasized that their status does not hinder this pursuit.

He outlined how to access the financial aid that is available, including scholarships, fellowships and federal funding opportunities, as well as the BDRC’s continued commitment to providing assistant to undocumented staff, faculty, and students.

“Some students come in with different statuses, and this is a thing that we have to work together as a campus to make sure that you have access to these resources,” he said.

(Courtesy of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity)

Before the final portion of question and answers, Teves rounded out the informational session with a complete breakdown of CSU policy landscape. She cited that “an estimated 92,000 undocumented students are enrolled in (California) colleges and universities. 52,000 are DACA eligible and about 10,000 are in the CSU.”

Teves described the federal, state and local legislation that the school system operates within and outlined recent bills such as the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, also known as HR 6, to establish a permanent residence status to DACA recipients.

“What we need is a permanent path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are brought to this country as children. To accomplish this, we need legislation which requires congressional action and presidential support at a federal level,” she later added, “So it is really critical that CSU has policies in place that put students first, and as you can see, ensuring that protections not just for undocumented students, but employees remains at the forefront.”

(Courtesy of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity)

Rosales also added a section detailing the constitutional rights that people in the U.S. still hold, regardless of their status.

This townhall meeting provided detailed legal analysis, financial aid breakdown, CSU policy and advocacy, as well as off-campus resources that can be accessed. It concluded with an anonymous question and answer period.

Former president of Cal Poly Pomona’s Demanda Estudiantil Para la Igualdad Educacion (DEPIE), Christopher Castillo Gonzalez was among the student leaders that collaborated to organize the 2019 march for DACA, a campus protest in solidarity with #HomeIsHere demonstrators in Washington, D.C.

“Students participating in The March for DACA walked from the Horse Stables directly into the Student Services Buildings.”
(Georgia Valdes | The Poly Post)

Even though Castillo Gonzalez recently graduated with a degree in business with a focus in management and human resources, he does not feel his work at CPP is done.

“We have to do more advocating. We have to do more lobbying, more petitioning for ourselves. And not just ourselves, but our parents who may also be undocumented,” he said.

He hopes to be part of the continued fight for clear and permanent solutions for DACA recipients and the undocumented community. He plans to be back on campus with his mother this fall to welcome incoming undocumented students during orientation and to aid their transition into higher education.

“It’s a very stressful time for many DREAMer students because you just don’t know what is going to be happening. Especially because the Trump administration is in a really critical moment in time where they are being challenged. I feel like (the administration) can do more radical things just to make a point,” Castillo Gonzalez said, “… at the moment, I think celebration is good and really (letting) people know that we’re here for them.”

The town hall meeting was recorded and is now available on the CPP Inclusive Excellence web page  at https://www.cpp.edu/inclusive-excellence/index.shtml.

It can also be found on the Undocumented Student Services web page at https://www.cpp.edu/broncodreamers/index.shtml

To book free legal services with CARECEN go to https://carecenla.simplybook.me/v2/. More information can be found at carecen-la.org. To reach Elda Rosales directly, email erosales@carecen-la.org.

The Bronco Dreamers Resource Center can be found at cpp.edu/broncodreamers, and Mecir A. Ureta Rivera can be reached at muretarivera@cpp.edu.

The Office of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity can be reached at inclusive-excel@cpp.edu.

Frances Teves can be reached at fteves@cpp.edu and the Office of Government and External Affairs can be found at cpp.edu/gov.

(Courtesy of the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Diversity)
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