SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A group of local DACA recipients will travel to Washington D.C. next week to rally for the ability to work and live in the U.S. as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments about President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program.
The Deferred Action for the Childhood Arrivals or DACA program is an Obama-era policy that allows children of undocumented immigrants to work in the United States and grants them protection from deportation.
In September 2017, President Trump ordered for the program to be rolled back and phased out over a period of six months, leaving the fate of Dreamers in the hands of Congress. The federal government stopped accepting new applications for the DACA program and only allowed renewals.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court said it would decide on the lawfulness of Trump’s decision to end the program with oral arguments beginning next Tuesday.
Ciriac Alvarez and Xochitl Juarez are two Utah DACA recipients who spoke to ABC4 News Friday before heading out to Washington D.C.
“I’m going to let Congress know that we’re still here. We’re going to put a face to the person. This time around, I’m taking my two boys to make a bigger statement. This time, what we’re saying is the people you’re trying to kick out will be separated from their families. This is us. We’re not invisible,” said Juarez.
“We need a permanent solution for the 700,000 DACA recipients like myself and the 11 million immigrants in the country. We deserve stability that doesn’t require us to live in limbo for the rest of our lives,” said Alvarez.
Both Juarez and Alvarez came to the United States as children and explained that the DACA program allowed them to support their families and build a future.
“It’s helped me graduate from college, buy my first car, help my family, and get a full-time job as a policy analyst,” said Alvarez.
“I’m in school to become a social worker and hopefully get my Master’s degree to become a counselor for a lot of kids who need help. This is not only for them, but to advocate for people’s rights because I know how that feels,” said Juarez.
They said they’re hoping through continued dialogue and visibility, they’ll be able to break misconceptions about undocumented immigrants and their families.
“I think the Trump administration’s effort to end the DACA program and enact anti-immigrant policies are really xenophobic. It feels like a direct attack towards people who don’t look like him or the people he represents. It’s this fear that if I succeed that other people can’t or that I’m taking away from someone else. But that’s not the case,” said Alvarez.
“We’re contributors to our society. We’re not breaking any laws. We’re doing things the right way. I want to give back to my community,” said Juarez. “I’m a human. I’m a mom. I’m a student. I’m a worker. I love my country. I care about it. That’s why I want to become a better person to help out in a grander way. I know education is key. We’re just trying to make it.”
Juarez said she tries to remain optimistic even though the future remains uncertain.
“Thinking about having everything I worked so hard for taken away from me, it doesn’t ever get less emotional for me. This is my home. Home is here. I can’t imagine going somewhere else where I don’t have these opportunities. We’re supposed to be in the land of the free. I want to show my kids you can dream big and make it here,” she said.
A ruling likely won’t be made until June 2020 as Trump campaigns for re-election.