San Diego Dreamers Celebrate SCOTUS DACA Ruling
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / June 18, 2020
An estimated 40,000 DACA eligible immigrants live in San Diego County.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Advocacy groups say about 40,000 DACA eligible immigrants live in San Diego County. Today's Supreme court decisions means they are safe from deportation for now. We're not going to hear voices from two San Diego dreamers bill say Garcia is a DACA recipient and immigration attorney. She filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to end DACA, which was consolidated into the case before the Supreme court also joining us is DACA recipient, Irving Hernandez, and Michelle Solari human rights council for Alliance San Diego, a social justice, nonprofit. How's everybody doing today? Welcome to the show.
Speaker 2: 00:40 Hi, thanks for having us. Thank you for having us.
Speaker 1: 00:44 And they'll say, let's start with you. How are you feeling this morning?
Speaker 2: 00:48 My goodness excited. Um, w it's definitely a moment to celebrate. We're very proud of this accomplishment. Um, it has been a long time coming and, uh, it's a, it's a day to celebrate today.
Speaker 1: 01:02 Irving, this decision was unexpected. How surprised were you by this ruling?
Speaker 3: 01:07 I was extremely surprised, but I can't tell you how relieved I feel. It's been several months of living with anxiety, not being able to sleep, knowing that when this decision comes, it's going to be hectic. And, um, you know, DACA was never about the work permit. It was about protections against deportation and as border dreamers, you know, we live a militarized reality. We have roaming patrols, we have, uh, border patrol checkpoints on all major freeways. And so I just felt relieved.
Speaker 1: 01:40 And Dulce is a DACA recipient. What does this decision mean for you personally?
Speaker 2: 01:45 Oh my goodness. It means that we can keep planning our lives for so long. Uh, since the acquisition was announced on September, 2017, our lives have been put in limbo. We have undergone enormous amount of stress figuring out what our next steps would be in life. It's very difficult to plan for your life when we don't know whether we're going to be deported or not. And when that would be a, so this isn't the end for us. We're going to keep fighting for a path to citizenship. And so those that's what's next for us, but for this moment we, we celebrate, uh, for me, it means that I'm able to maintain my office open in and employ us citizens. It means that I can, uh, continue with my plans of adopting a child as I was, as they had prior to the doctor position physician. And so it just means that we can breathe in peace, knowing that for now we're not deportable
Speaker 1: 02:39 and Dulce, you were brought by your parents to the U S from Mexico when you were six years old, what sort of doors did DACA open up for you?
Speaker 2: 02:48 So many doors to be able to open my business as a, as a lawyer, uh, was a moment of great pride for not just myself and my family for the community itself. It was another form of win. Every time that we thrive in our communities, it's a, it's a moment to celebrate. And, uh, unfortunately when the DACA program was rescinded so many young folks in particularly the hundred thousand DACA undocumented folks that didn't get the chance to apply for DACA, realize we put on limbo. Um, and so for us to be able to retain our DACA status for now, it means that we can plan ahead, um, and move on with our lives. As we move forward in the movement to obtain a path to citizenship
Speaker 1: 03:36 and Irving, when did you come to the U S and how has DACA impacted your life here in San Diego?
Speaker 3: 03:42 So I came to the United States at the age of six in 2000, and it's a DACA came at the right time. I was graduating from Montevista high school, um, in 2012 with a 4.2 GPA, thanks to the AP five 40 law in California. I was able to enroll and get accepted into San Diego state. Um, but I didn't know if I was able to, um, you know, financially, um, pay for all of my education. Uh, but fortunately with DACA, I was able to find employment within a month of getting my work permit in October and I in 2017, graduated from San Diego state as an aerospace engineer without any debt, um, to my name. So DACA has truly allowed me to pursue the career. Um, even though I was brought here by my parents, will I see it as their dream? You know, they're the initial dreamers and I wouldn't have what I have today, if it weren't for them.
Speaker 3: 04:46 And at the age of 25, I fully take responsibility of being here in the United States. Um, but you know, looking ahead, I currently cannot work in the aerospace industry since I would need status under the ITAR regulation, either residency or citizenship under the DACA program. Uh, you know, the DACA program does not fall under, uh, the ITR regulations. So looking ahead, you know, we must continue fighting for a permanent solution, one that will lead to a pathway to citizenship, but understanding that we cannot give up others in our community, uh, to obtain any immigration benefits,
Speaker 1: 05:27 dreamers like yourselves have lived with a lot of uncertainty over the past couple of years, had either of you made plans or considered what you might do had the ruling gone the other way, a dual say start with you.
Speaker 2: 05:39 Yes. Our primary concern, if we had received an unfavorable decision would have been to prepare for the worst case scenario, which was deportation, uh, immediately, uh, this administration undoubtedly would have looked into, uh, deporting us. And so the would have become the problem of information sharing between USDA, uh, the agency does in charge of processing our DACA applications. And I's the agency that is in charge with deporting us. Um, the biggest fear was that because this administration knows who I am and where I'm at, um, that they would come after me personally, my family, and that I would be in a, in a, um, prison cell immediately. Um, as, uh, as we have seen time and time again, this administration, uh, is a cruel and its enforcement of immigration, uh, inhumane policies that are set in place. And so that was the biggest fear that we would see DACA recipients immediately be put in a detention center and deported
Speaker 1: 06:43 in Irving, uh, pretty much share those sentiments. I imagine.
Speaker 3: 06:47 Yes. And, you know, I did have that conversation with my family. Um, we sat down, we talked about it and, you know, it broke my heart to see my mother cry, but I gave my parents the confidence that, you know, other fellow activists have given me. And, you know, I told them that I was not going to back down, you know, DACA was not gifted to us. It was fought for, and I owe it to those initial dreamers that fought for DACA and obtained DACA, uh, that I would do my part. And I, I told my parents that I would not back down that I would be on the streets until I'm either detained and deported or, or who knows. Um, so, you know, we, we must stand for the most vulnerable and as this continues to progress, this movement continues to progress. You know, we understand that, um, we cannot separate communities. Um, the fight for the undocumented person is also the fight for the black American it's. It's also for those in the LGBTQ community. Uh, you, we are fighting for an inclusive community and for a United States that serves all of us, not just one group
Speaker 1: 08:06 and Michelle, I want to bring you into this conversation up until now. DACA renewals have been ongoing, but the program has been closed to new applicants, the expect new applications to resume and, uh, any sense of how soon it could happen.
Speaker 4: 08:20 I do expect them to raise them. So DACA is going to go back to what it looked like on June 15, 2012. So initial applications will begin again, the administration hasn't said when they're going to start accepting those applications, but I would imagine that would happen pretty quickly.
Speaker 1: 08:38 And a lot of DACA recipients want to know of advanced parole, which allows them to travel outside the U S will return. What's your sense about that?
Speaker 4: 08:47 Since advanced parole was in place on June 15th, 2012, I would imagine that that would also be in place now. Um, we haven't received any guidance on that so far, but I would say that it was on from grounding when it was put in place in 2012,
Speaker 1: 09:03 Michelle, what's your biggest piece of advice for DACA recipients today
Speaker 4: 09:07 for today to celebrate, to take a deep breath, take it all in, know that today you are safe, but remember that there is, uh, there's planning that needs to happen. And to remember that there, there may be a pathway forward for you and to go out and do your research, meet with an attorney and see if there's any other benefits that are available to you. This is temporary, um, potentially. And so we want to push for legislation. It was a fight to get here, to have DACA, and we need to continue to fight for more permanent solution.
Speaker 1: 09:42 And Michelle, the Supreme court did not decide on DACA as a matter of policy. Uh, the court said the administration or a future administration can still end that program. If it does it properly. How big a concern is that
Speaker 4: 09:54 it is a real concern. The administration can go back, take into consideration the elements that they did not consider this time around, and they can resend the program. It would be difficult to do it quickly, and it would probably happen after an election. Uh, and so if the Trump administration remains an office, it is a big possibility in the next term. And so it's really important that we get out and vote.
Speaker 1: 10:22 Tell us about the webinars Alliance. San Diego is hosting the next couple of days.
Speaker 4: 10:27 So we are going to be hosting a webinar to discuss what, what all this means. What does this decision mean for DACA and the longterm in the short term? And we're going to go over different programs that are available for doc recipients, and also go over some of the worst case scenario options in the event that DACA does not stay. But in addition to these webinars, we are planning to have DACA workshops where we will be processing initial DACA applications and DACA renewals for individuals that need that service, and that will be provided for free
Speaker 1: 11:04 and Dulce. Uh, while you have been able to keep your status for now, it's still temporary. Since DACA doesn't provide a path to citizenship, is citizenship still the goal?
Speaker 2: 11:14 Absolutely. We must ensure that we have a path to citizenship, not just for DACA recipients, but also for the 11 million people that are undocumented in this country, such as my parents, uh, as it was mentioned, uh, this DACA program was never meant to be permanent. It wasn't the end all. And so we're going to keep organizing, and we're going to keep demanding Congress to protect us permanently from deportation, because as you mentioned, the Supreme court, uh, did not say that, uh, DACA will be permanent. And so whether it's this administration or some other administration, um, we, we have to ensure that we have a path to citizenship. And for that, we have to make sure that we do get the vote out. Uh, we have to ensure that everyone's counted on the census as well. That is also very important work that needs to be done in our communities.
Speaker 2: 12:05 Um, as it was mentioned, this, this result today was years and years of fearless organizing to even obtain DACA. It took years and years of young DACA, uh, young undocumented folks, risking everything, deportation, their livelihoods, everything to obtain a path to citizenship. That's what we've been fighting for. And DACA was just a temporary fix to that. It was not a permanent problem solution to the problem. And so we need a path to citizenship. Um, the, um, house last year passed the dream and promise act, and we're sure that if they were to be put up for vote on the Senate, that, uh, it would pass. Uh, and, um, I, we believe that most Americans in the us want to keep us here because they see us as fellow Americans. Uh, and I think that Congress needs to align itself with that view.
Speaker 1: 13:04 And Irvine, do you think citizenship might, uh, play a part in the political season we're in as these candidates from president on down to local elections campaign between now and November?
Speaker 3: 13:16 Yes. Because having a group of people only be allowed to work, um, and roam freely here in the United States is not enough. You know, it comes to treating people with basic human decency, uh, for most of us, uh, in the undocumented community, we're very family oriented. And so a lot of us have had, uh, you know, give up the opportunity of seeing our fellow, you know, families, uh, in our countries of origin. And part of this fight to obtain citizenship is being able to say our last goodbyes. And for me, that, that, that is very personal. I had to see my grandfather passed away through Facebook, my mother and I could not, couldn't be there with him physically. And so obtaining citizenship fighting for a pathway to citizenship in its simplest form is allowing people to regain their basic human decency, basic human rights. And, you know, we must continue fighting. We must like people to any office, whether it be local state or federal to fight for that, to be willing, to restore that human decency into every single community. And so it is going to be absolutely necessary for any politician that is running to fight for and pass legislations that will protect, um, every citizen at all costs.
Speaker 1: 14:48 I've been speaking with dual Garcia, DACA recipient, and immigration attorney, DACA recipient, Irving Hernandez, and Michelle Soleri whose human rights council for Alliance San Diego is social justice. Nonprofit. Thanks very much to you all. Thank you for having us. Thank you. Later today, dreamers and supporters will hold a rally at 6:00 PM in front of the San Diego County administration building at waterfront park.