By Renee Walker and Jonathan Santiago, Nov. 15, 2022

The survival of roughly 600,000 immigrants is in jeopardy after a U.S. federal appeals court declared that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as unconstitutional. Dreamers who applied for the program before the ruling will be permitted to renew their status, yet the program remains in danger

On Oct. 5, the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a 2021 lower court ruling that claimed former President Barack Obama overstepped his bounds when he implemented DACA by executive order.

Cal Poly Pomona staff members voiced their displeasure with the court ruling and what it means for CPP Dreamers.

“Once again, we see that our students are not seen as people. They are numbers — money, right,” said Mecir Ureta, senior coordinator of the Undocumented Students Services and the Bronco Dreamer’s Resource Center. “They’re always asking, ‘what does it mean,’ and we’ve had workshops and we’ve had multiple Q&As with our attorneys, trying to answer what does it mean for the future but unfortunately we don’t know.”

On his first day in office, President Biden sought to improve the DACA program since legislation has yet to be passed by Congress Democrats have come under increasing pressure from advocates to use the budget reconciliation procedure to grant Dreamers accelerated citizenship.

“Immigration reform has always been doing immigrants justice,” said Ureta. “For this to work we have to step away from the ‘Good vs. Bad,’ immigrant narrative. We have always put the people with like 4.0 GPAs or the person that pays taxes as the perfect person. I think all undocumented immigrants, especially my students, a lot of them working two jobs, their parents working three jobs to put them through school have different stories. That’s how we make citizenship work: by understanding that we all have different beautiful stories.”

DACA has had an impact on people across the CPP campus. Teresa Aquino is a Social Justice Leader at the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education.

Image courtesy of Mecir Ureta

Aquino, whose sister is on DACA, said the uncertainty over the program, “is definitely bringing mental (health) issues and problems that we don’t need.”

The constant tension surrounding the DACA has become more of a burden than a miracle for Aquino and her family.

“It was originally beneficial for my sister to continue to work and also pursuit her education, now it’s just something that we are constantly having problems and worries about how we are going to try to solve this issue for my sister,” said Aquino

For many, the U.S. is the only home that they know. DACA protects children who were brought to the U.S. at a young age from deportation. To qualify for DACA, you must have entered the U.S. before the age of 16.

There are programs within the CPP campus that offer help to students protected under DACA. The Undocumented Students Services program and Bronco Dreamers Resource Center   are CPP programs to help students regarding this issue.

“DACA is something so monumental for low-income undocumented students, everyone deserves a chance at obtaining an education regardless of citizenship status,” said Andres Mejia, president of the Mexican American Student Association and political science major.

Mejia expressed how different his trajectory is in comparison to his family members who are Dreamers. Mejia also credits these circumstances as they have pushed him to pursuit studying immigration law. Mejia hopes to be a resource for others with the same status as his own family.

“Growing up I knew me and my brother had a difference in citizenship status, but I did not fully recognize what that would entail for him in the future,” said Mejia. “At the age of 15 we were having talks on how our family would navigate my brother’s collegiate journey. I was scared my brother would have to forgo college with me even though we have been together.”

Feature image by Renee Walker 

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