By: Rye Spooner
On September 5th, President Trump made a decision that put the future of 800,000 young undocumented immigrants up in the air. DACA, or the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals, is a program that was made to protect and help young undocumented immigrants from deportation and allowed them to obtain work permits. With the deadline of March 5th, 2018 for a decision to be made about the program, many are concerned about the Dreamers whose permits expire before then – and what that means for them in terms of deportation.
In California, over 220,000 people are a part of the DACA program, and most of the people affected are aged anywhere from 16-years old to 35-years old. According to the Pew Research Center, of the 220,000 Dreamers located in California, 89,900 are located in Los Angeles alone. In the Bay area, around 50,000 residents could be affected by the coming changes.
As most recipients are of college age, many universities are offering resources to their students. The College of San Mateo, for example, has their DREAM center open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm, to offer support and answer questions from those affected. In addition, every Tuesday they hold “DACA 101”, which is a community meeting that offers updates to the current status of the program of those affected and support. “Let me be very clear that College of San Mateo values and supports all undocumented students, immigrants and people of all backgrounds.” said Mike Claire, President of College of San Mateo in a statement released the day of the announcement “We believe that everyone has the right to an education. I support that right personally, and the San Mateo County Community College District also supports this right unequivocally.”
Other organizations, like Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), offer in-person presentations to high school students, parents, educators, and college students. The co-founder and executive director of E4FC, Katherine Gin, also serves on the board of directors for the California Immigrant Policy Center, which works directly with lawmakers in Sacramento to help identify immigrant-related policy issues that affect California’s large immigrant population. “To be undocumented in this country, you have to be creative and you have to hustle,” she said in an interview with Fast Company. They recently put together a presentation for high school students that took place on the 23rd, and they have more events coming up in the bay area.
As of now, centers and organizations are trying to lend help in any way they can. As the expiration of the DACA continues to scare people, the Bay Area is rushing to help and take legal action for all those affected. Janet Napolitano, the President of the University of California, is suing the Trump administration for ending the program that she helped create. “I recognize that it is unusual for a former cabinet official to sue the agency she once led,” she said in an article she wrote for the LA Times. “My anger at DACA’s rescission doesn’t stem from pride in the work done to create this program, although I am very proud of the program. Instead it is motivated by the harm that eliminating DACA will cause to the so-called Dreamers at the University of California, the 10-campus system I now lead, and to the nearly 800,000 Dreamers across our country,” she goes on to say.
While many programs and universities are offering all the help they can give until a decision is made on or before March 5th 2018, no one knows if it will be enough. For the “Dreamers” in California and across the country, it is simply a waiting game to see what will happen to the program that for many, gave them a new chance at life. Until that time however, Dreamers and Non-Dreamers across the country won’t stop fighting for their right to stay in their country.