Ruling on ‘Dreamers’ a boost for movement to legalize 13 million undocumented immigrants

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DACA recipients, advocates ready to resume lobbying Congress for a comprehensive immigration reform bill

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — From California to Texas, young migrants say they feel re-energized knowing they won’t lose work permits nor be placed in deportation procedures — for now.

The so-called “Dreamers” now say they’re ready to resume their lobbying in Congress not only for a law that will give them permanent residence and a pathway to citizenship and the right to vote but also for a full immigration reform to legalize their parents and other undocumented immigrants.

This after the Supreme Court on Thursday tossed out President Trump’s 2017 order to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The 2012 Obama-era program protects more than 700,000 people who were brought into the country illegally before age 16 from deportation and gives them work permits.

“I was really scared, not optimistic. I was preparing for the worst,” said Delma Gorostieta, a Texas A&M University law student. “Every morning, I woke up ready to hear the worst news, and today, it was a turnaround for me. I burst out in tears. I couldn’t believe it.”

Delma Gorostieta

The “Dreamers” say they have been feeling the Trump administration’s pushback, not only against them but also against their parents and all undocumented immigrants for the past three years.

Some were even considering not renewing their two-year permits, but in the end, they did.

“I was doubting myself because my permit expires in November, but I did it anyway, in April. I still (can’t believe) it’s happening. Now I can continue my studies and graduate soon,” said Itzel Campos, a nursing student at El Paso Community College.

Campos and her brother are both protected from deportation by DACA and were brought into the U.S. at such a young age they never got to know the country they were born in. Campos, 19, was 5 when her parents moved to El Paso from Torreon, Mexico.

“This will allow us to keep fighting to make sure we have a DREAM Act in the future,” she said.

The 2001 Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act meant to legalize migrant children who graduated from high school and had been in the country for more than five years without getting into trouble with the law. The House passed a new version last year, HR 6, but the Senate failed to take it up.

Now that they don’t have to worry about immediate deportation, the “Dreamers” and their advocates say they’re ready to redouble efforts not only to get the Dream Act passed but to legalize other undocumented immigrants as well.

“Today’s decision was a shock. Last night, I was thinking, ‘What will my life be like without a work permit?'” said Jorge Reyes Salinas, a staff member for California Assemblywoman Monique Limon. “I’m fine for the time being. Now, I can continue working at the State Capitol and educate them as to what’s going on with DACA.”

Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said Thursday’s high court ruling is only a “procedural victory.”

“Now we need to send a clear message to president-elect Biden or to Trump that we expect you will pass, in the first 100-days of your new administration, comprehensive immigration reform that will give legal status to every ‘Dreamer,’ their parents and the other 13 million immigrants in this country,” said Garcia, “and that we will finally give them a pathway to citizenship.”

Fernando Garcia, executive director of El Paso’s Border Network for Human Rights, agrees.

“We need Congress to pass legislation that provides a permanent and long-term solution not only for the DACA recipients but for other ‘Dreamers’ and their families,” Garcia said. “We welcome this news but the long-term solution is not on the table (yet).”

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