Reckoning With DACA While Awaiting Supreme Court Decision On Its Fate

Activists march in SanTana to protect DACA

By Hairo Cortes, Chispa

The trajectory of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program throughout 45’s Administration has been nothing short of exhausting.

I’ve been watching over this program from its inception in 2012; first, as a jaded teenager who stood on the sidelines as my brother and dozens of other organizers just a few years older than me envisioned, developed, and pushed the program on the Obama Administration through direct action organizing, coalition building, and a masterful use of social and traditional media to put it on the national radar.

When I finally got off my ass, I became extremely familiar with the program as a coordinator for a series of legal clinics that helped hundreds in Orange County apply for DACA for free. Close to a year after the program launched, I applied for it. I’ve had all these memories in the back of my mind in the last week as we awaited the Supreme Court’s hearing to decide once and for all whether the program will remain in place, as the majority of the country wants, or will end, as the far right wants.

But for me, it’s not just out of direct personal interest as a beneficiary of the program. I’ve long argued in this column that young immigrants are no more special or deserving of opportunity, dignity, and protection from deportation than any other immigrant regardless of how they got here, how old they were, or the mistakes they may have made along their life journey.

Baby Hairo giving a DACA presentation in La Habra in 2012

I’m worried because I’ve seen how Washington plays the game. I’ve seen how quickly congressional Democrats, and even people in the immigrant rights sector, contemplate taking the lowest hanging fruit that is a permanent fix for DACA recipients in exchange for further enforcement along the border even as terrible conditions continue to be exposed there. Without a whiff of irony, they’ll readily bargain away empowering  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the interior of the country even as they rail against each new series of raids 45 announces to terrorize our communities.

Reading over reports of the Supreme Court hearing today, there seems to be much cause for concern over the program’s future. The court seems to be split along its usual ideological lines, with the five Republican-appointed justices leaning toward the administration’s arguments and the four Democrat appointed justices leaning toward preserving the program.

If you’ve read my columns before, you may have noticed my M.O. by now. I usually make a point about how this too may pass with the right organizing, and the right vision. I still believe that wholeheartedly. But today I’m too tired to think about those things and that’s okay. For today, I’ll sit with contemplating an uncertain future, and whatever may come with it.

Tomorrow we can get back to the vision board and to owning our power as community that forced the government to take positive action. As my dear friend Neidi Dominguez, who bears much of the responsibility for DACA’s existence, said on Facebook:

“Today the Supreme Court will hear a case that may decide the fate of DACA. What it will not do is diminish from the power of the people who forced the government to take them into account.”

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