Dozens of protesters showed up outside the Eugene Federal Courthouse on Saturday in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. This comes after the Trump Administration’s move to defy a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling reinstating the program.
Back in June, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump Administration did not follow the proper procedures in attempting to end the program. Immigration advocates and legal groups celebrated the decision in hopes DACA would be fully restored.
However, NPR reported the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had denied applications after the June 18 ruling. Weeks later on July 28 the Department of Homeland Security announced they will place a hold on accepting new applicants as they "review" the policy.
“As a community and as a country we really have to rally around the notion that when the Supreme Court speaks the president needs to listen, the [Trump Administration] needs to respond appropriately,” said Abigail Molina, an immigration attorney.
The decision to reject new applicants has left many of Molina’s clients, who she represents through her law firm Molina Law Group LLC, frustrated.
“[My clients] want a path forward, they want to know that they have a future here,” Molina said. After news broke on Tuesday, Molina began mobilizing, and organizing and this included planning Saturday's protest.
“We’re preparing applications even still. We’re preparing to fight, there’s still ongoing lawsuits in support of DACA. The Supreme Court ruling was just the start, now it’s about forcing this government to follow the law,” she said.
Many of the people at the protest were not DACA recipients or applicants, but that was because there is now a renewed sense of fear among undocumented people, said Sharohm Garcia. And the protests in Portland haven’t helped.
“It’s scary, especially with what’s going on in Portland. I mean we don’t know what happens after [the Department of Homeland Security] grabs you,” she said.
On July 16, Oregon Public Broadcasting first reported federal law enforcement in unmarked vehicles were detaining protesters in Portland. Though recent reports from OPB indicate federal law enforcement is expected to withdraw from the city.
Garcia said she only came to the DACA rally in Eugene because she was born in the U.S. and was willing to risk being in public. She wanted to support her friend who had tried to apply to the program for years, but was never accepted.
“At this point [my friend] is in her 20’s and she’s just tired, and she’s willing to go back to Brazil where she doesn’t have a life, and she doesn’t even know the language well,” Garcia said. “She’d have to start from scratch.”
Applicants have to meet very specific requirements based on age, time spent in the U.S., education, and criminal background. Getting DACA is not a pathway to citizenship, but undocumented individuals in the program are considered to be in the country lawfully.
Chants of “Vote Trump Out” and “Education Not Deportation” could be heard throughout the protest. Sammy Alcantar, with City Wide Unión de Activistas said voting in the November presidential election is crucial to protecting DACA. Those in the DACA program are often referred to as DREAMers.
“These youth have helped the community so much, in so many different ways and this is what [the government] wants to do to them now, after all the work [DREAMers] have done and accomplished,” Alcantar said.
She added many DACA recipients are front line healthcare workers who have been working throughout the cornovarius pandemic. “It’s not fair, all [DREAMers] want is equal access to education,” said Alcantar.
Several lawsuits aimed at restoring DACA are currently pending.
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