The Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision Thursday that blocks the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
The program protects undocumented persons brought to the country as children.
Around 7,000 DACA recipients are in Oklahoma and are a part of the estimated 650,000 in the U.S.
Those recipients are often referred to as “Dreamers” because the act that established the program was called the “Dream Act” as it made it’s way through Congress and was passed August 15, 2012.
This reporter reached out to some of those he knew who were closest to the effects of this important decision of the high court.
Cynthia Garcia was 15 years old when she was brought to the U.S. In Oklahoma for 16 years now, she is heavily involved in advocating for dreamers and for LGBTQ rights.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy and hope, I know there’s so much more to fight for specially in the moment,” she told Free Press.
“This win is beyond DACA and is for the reclaiming of our humanity and grounding us in power. When we fight back, we win and our community deserves to win.”
With the Supreme Court’s decision to include gay and transgender persons under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act Monday it’s been a momentous week for her as it has for many others.
To show the level of distrust she had in a life of the secrecy of being undocumented, when the act was passed in 2012 she waited for a while because she didn’t know if she could trust giving vital information to the government.
“I was really afraid that it was too good to be true,” said Garcia. “So, it took almost a year for me to finally make the decision to sign up and I got approved.”
And, it made all the difference in her sense of belonging and being invested in the country.
“So, it was a completely different shift,” she said. “I was able to get a driver’s license. I was able to get a work permit. I began to explore my career opportunities in a broader lens. I was not scared every time a cop pulled behind me because I knew at least I could prove that I was driving with a license.”
José Cruz grew up in a hard-working family in Chicago. He became a naturalized citizen in 2011, graduated from college, went to law school and passed the bar in 2018. He lives on the south side of Oklahoma City now.
“It’s a great win,” Cruz told Free Press. “But this continues to highlight our broken immigration system. Young Americans should not have to live out their lives in two year terms.”
“It’s huge though — DACA recipients can continue to receive employment authorization, which means that they can hold great paying jobs and continue investments in their communities,” said Cruz.
Cruz is running for the Oklahoma House District 89 seat on the south side of Oklahoma City going up against two other Democrats and one Republican in the primary later in June.
Cinthya Allen was brought to the U.S. from Chihuahua, Mexico when she was only seven years old and is a naturalized citizen.
“Today’s news gives me hope,” she told Free Press. “When I think of who the risk of removing DACA impacts, I think of all our United States citizens.”
“By providing Dreamers – DACA participants – a method to work, go to school, and pay taxes we are providing a pipeline of economic strength which benefits everyone. I truly believe people want to succeed.”
Yajaira Castillo is a DACA recipient whose main emotion was relief when she heard the news.
“The difference is we don’t have to worry about how we will continue to pay rent, car, insurance, and bills for a little longer,” Castillo said. “This doesn’t mean the battle is over. It is a continuous battle over citizenship. We have to fight through it after the election as well.”
Free Press reached out to Brenda Lozano, Executive Director of Dream Action – Oklahoma, an advocacy organization focused on supporting dreamers and pushing for immigration reform.
“Today the Supreme Court sided against oppression. Today is about rejoicing in our immigrant community Their ruling to protect DACA gives us hope in the potential that we have to continue fighting for justice,” said Lozano.
“We recognize that a temporary protection is not a permanent solution and that the current administration has continued to push its xenophobic and racist agenda,” she said.
“We will not stop until everyone in our community is protected and we have fully defunded hate!”
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberals on the court to tip the 5-4 decision against the Trump administration’s attempt since 2017 to end the DACA program.
It’s the second time in a week that Roberts has joined decisions that went against Trump administration arguments.
Monday, the court handed down a 6-3 decision that included gay and transgender persons in workplace protections under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Thursday’s DACA decision is a blow to Trump who came into office promising to reverse some of the gains made by immigrants in the previous Obama administration.
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Correction: In our original version we said José Cruz grew up on the south side of Oklahoma City. He grew up in Chicago and now lives on the south side of Oklahoma City. We apologize for the error.