By Adrianna Alejandro
Pulse Staff Reporter
With President Donald J. Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September, the future of the program’s recipients, known as the Dreamers, remains unclear.
“Everything is day by day. It’s very difficult to predict what [Trump] may or may not do. But I’m hoping that with enough pressure from society…he will see how important this [program] is to our students,” said Carmen Velásquez, advising team leader at Palo Alto College.
The Obama administration established the program in June 2012. The program grants protection from deportation to children who arrived illegally in the United States with their parents.
DACA also allows recipients to obtain a driver’s license, work and attend school as long as they remain in school or serve in the military and have a crime-free background. Recipients are required to renew their permit every two years to avoid deportation.
DACA has enrolled nearly 800,000 immigrants. Of those, 110,050 live in Texas, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
After Trump announced that he plans to rescind the program, he gave recipients until Oct. 5—only one month—to renew their permit. Dreamers scrambled to set up meetings with their lawyers to mail in the proper paperwork along with a $465 application fee.
Dozens of recipients reported an unusual delay of their applications, resulting in a late delivery and rejection of their applications. Despite sending their applications in weeks in advance, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency said at this time, nothing could be done.
Fernanda Hernandez Gloria is a sophomore majoring in Mexican-American Studies. She is the president of the Somos MAS (We Are Mexican American Studies) club at PAC, as well as a recipient of the DACA program.
Her main concerns are figuring out how to handle work and school after her permit expires next September.
“I won’t be able to renew anymore after this year. I won’t be able to work after it expires. I have to figure out how I’m going to go to Our Lady of the Lake University and be able to pay for my books and tuition,” said Hernandez Gloria.
While the future of DACA remains unclear and is leaving Dreamers in a state of limbo, it should be known that many people and organizations, including Palo Alto College, are fighting to keep this program alive.
“We sent a letter to all of the congressmen and the president on behalf of the Alamo Colleges saying that we support our [DACA] students and [Congress] needs to pass legislation that will help support our students and keep our students safe,” said Velásquez.
Palo Alto College recently held DACA clinics to help students and their families renew their licenses. PAC also hosted information sessions for immigrants to be aware of their rights in case those rights are threatened.
“What we want to do with any student, if they have concerns or challenges, is connect them with the right [people] on campus and connect them with the right [people] in the community so that they can answer any questions that they may have and continue on their path to be successful,” said Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College.
If Congress decides to do away with the program all together, the United States could suffer a $460.3 billion loss of gross domestic product (GDP) and lost jobs, according to the Alamo Colleges’ Board of Trustees.
Alyssa Lozano, a sophomore Psychology major, believes that all Latinos will be affected if DACA is rescinded.
“I feel that as a Hispanic community, it will affect us because it’s a big blow. It hurts because our people are being thought of less. We’re all looked at less,” said Lozano.
PAC has 80 documented DACA students currently attending school. PAC is dedicated to giving DACA students a sense of security and reassurance that they will stand by them.
“There are a lot of people who don’t get the education. And Palo Alto, specifically, we are a strong school…we can help out more people get a better education for better jobs, [and] better opportunities for life,” said Javier Garcia, a sophomore Pre-Med major at Palo Alto College.