The legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(D.A.C.A.) program awaits a U.S. Supreme Court decision this month. If repealed, it could have a significant impact on the Inland Empire with a loss of workers and deportations.
Najayra, a 24-year-old D.A.C.A. recipient says, she is feeling both tired and frustrated about the upcoming Supreme Court decision.
“The decision is like always pending every week and being pushed back," said Najayra. For me it has reaffirmed the need to continue to stay resilient even in times of uncertainty.”
Najayra, who asked that only her first name be used, was almost four-years-old when her family left a violent region in Mexico for a safer life in the states. But it wasn’t until high school that she learned she was undocumented. While in college she received D.A.C.A. and now works for the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Collective guiding others through being undocumented and organizing for immigration reform.
“I never imagined it would be completely taken away,” said Najayra.
Because the program is eight years old, a growing number of recipients, like Najayra are now college graduates, says Jennifer Nájera, a University of California Riverside Ethnic Studies Professor.
“We are talking about the lives of 60,000 people who are not just students but working professionals,” said Professor Nájera.
That’s right, according to the Migration Policy Institute 60,000 people in the Inland Empire are D.A.C.A. recipients. Professor Nájera says that a disruption of work status for people in industries ranging from social services and city government to engineers and teachers would mean a significant impact for the region.
She says while it would be a victory to keep D.A.C.A. intact, she is concerned about those who haven’t been able to apply for D.A.C.A. due to the Trump Administration’s freeze on applications.
“It doesn’t solve the larger prob of what do we do with undocumented young people who have been raised here, who have been educated here, who after they graduate from high school really have no place to go,” said Professor Nájera.
Najayra agrees, she says no matter the Supreme Court’s decision she will keep fighting for immigration reforms that are more inclusive and grant a true pathway for citizenship.