After a three-year freeze on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA, December 7 marked the first day new applications could once again be submitted.
For students who have been unable to support their higher education with DACA’s deportation protection and work authorization, this is a huge boon, said Dr. Jennifer Nájera, a U.C. Riverside Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies.
“If you think about the cycle of the university, most people are in and out in four or five years," said Nájera. So, at this point, we have more students without DACA than we have with DACA. So, it is a cause of, I think, concern for us as university professors and administrators, both the mental health well-being and also the financial well-being of our students.”
Mariana Lopez, who works with DACA students in the San Bernardino Community College District, said she’s already hearing stories of relief, like one student who will be able to visit his parents in Mexico for the first time in three years. Others, she said, are rushing to get their applications in before December 22. That’s the date of yet another federal hearing which could throw the fate of DACA into limbo again.
“So you also sense that pressure, that students have to, need to, submit their initial applications before that date, because once again, you never know when it could be put on hold,” said Lopez.
Though Dr. Nájera feels confident that could all change under the Biden administration in January.
“I do think that for the most part, it is sort of going to be this political tug of war until Biden is sworn in," said Nájera. "And then once he is sworn in, he is committed to re-establish the DACA program per executive order, and he has said he is committed to immigration reform in his first 100 days.”
She said the only way to create lasting stability for this community is through immigration reform passed by Congress.
We’d like to remind our readers and listeners that KVCR is owned and operated by the San Bernardino Community College District which employs Mariana Lopez, the college administrator Megan spoke to for this story.