For many immigrant rights advocates in Oregon, Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals –or DACA- was a victory. But, the decision is only one step in the ongoing fight for the permanent citizenship of undocumented immigrants.
The past few months have been stressful for Jesus Narvaez. He recalls getting a text message Thursday morning from a friend telling him to “Google Supreme Court.”
“As soon as I Google’d it, it’s like ‘Supreme Court rules against Trump’ and I was just like whoa. I don’t know, it was the best 10 minute break ever,” Narvaez said.
Narvaez graduated this week with a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies and a certificate in secondary education from the University of Oregon. Next week, he’ll start grad school in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Education.
“I’m looking to become a middle school [or] high school teacher…I’m looking to become a teacher and just help be a mentor for people as they transition from high school and potentially into college,” he said.
SCOTUS’ narrow decision, 5-4, has lifted a weight off his shoulders, he said, but the status of his parents is still a concern.
“It’s not just about us, it’s about our families, and also the 11 million undocumented people who call this country home, and I want people to take that into account as well,” Narvaez said.
Fellow DACA recipient, Hugo Nicolas, who used to live in Eugene, is also concerned about the status of his parents. KLCC has followed Nicolas since 2013 when he was a student at the University of Oregon. He’s now managing a bank in Tacoma, Washington.
“I think with this court ruling it forces us to come back even stronger for elections, to ask for immigration reform not just for Dreamers and for DACA people, but for people who don’t qualify for DACA,” he said.
Nicolas had been an advocate for DACA recipients, who are often referred to as "Dreamers", for years. Recently, he put his activism on hold because of the Trump Administration’s attacks on immigrant communities. But now, he’s reinvigorated and plans to continue organizing.
“We can’t wait for another election, we can’t wait for another reform, and we can’t wait for another Supreme Court hearing. It’s kind of adding up…we have to make something happen now,” he said.
While DACA remains intact, advocates have noted the policy isn’t a permanent solution. Qualifying for the program can be challenging and recipients have to renew their status every two years. Furthermore, only a fraction of undocumented immigrants are on the program.
At a press conference with several immigrant rights groups in Oregon, Pilar Cazares, a staff member at Causa, offered her perspective. She’s undocumented.
“I am not a DACA recipient, but that does not mean that I do not care for the program, nor does it mean that it does not have a direct impact on me. Having a mixed status family shows me every day how everyone is impacted by this decision,” Cazares said.
Cazares joined other advocates in celebrating the ruling as a win while also calling for a pathway for citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. Cazares said “there needs to be a better system.”
“As Dreamers, all we want is to better our futures for our families and ourselves. Continuing to make improvements towards citizenship for all Dreamers is crucial. We are not asking for more than what is being given to others, We are asking for equality," she said, "I am asking for fairness because I am an Oregonian and Oregon is my home too."
Advocates, not wanting to ignore recent anti-police brutality and racial justice protests, expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Carmen Rubio, the Executive Director of Latino Network, said they're committed to supporting and uplifting Black immigrants.
“We stand in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters, and individuals on the call to defund the police and for the increased investment in black communities,” she said. "Because we recognize that our liberation and our futures are intertwined."
Copyright 2020 KLCC