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DACA youth hold out hope for relief from legislation
Supreme Court upholds 'Dreamers' status, for now, despite administration's goal for more immigration reform
01142018 DACA
Supporters of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program demonstrate Sept. 3, 2017, on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Supreme Court last week effectively granted a “stay of execution” to an expiring program that protects from deporting undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

In the meantime, Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association for Latino Elected Officials, said it’s important for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to understand they are still eligible to renew their protected status. But no new applicants are being accepted.

“That is the important message,” Gonzalez said.

The High Court’s decision not to review lower court rulings that have kept the DACA program in place while litigation proceeds countered Trump administration requests and Republican lawmakers’ wishes.

Federal district judges in California and New York have issued nationwide injunctions against ending the program March 5, the deadline set by the White House.

Conservative politicians hailed the move to end DACA when it was announced in September, and began pursuing a deal that would include increased border security and a border wall in possible exchange for protecting some DACA recipients.

“Because the Department of Homeland Security under the previous administration circumvented the legislative process and ignored the law, it saddled undocumented young people with ambiguity regarding their immigration status,” 9th District U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said in a statement at the time.

“The president is thoughtfully correcting the error he inherited, recognizing that our strong commitment to the rule of law serves both America and her neighbors. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to bring needed reform to the immigration system while continuing our nation’s legacy of upholding the law and the separation of powers.”

Gonzalez said he believes a legislative fix is also the only solution at this point, and he expects the DACA issue to play well on both sides in this year’s midterm elections.

“So we’re going to gear up to educate voters,” he said.

Vanesa Sarazua, who founded the Hispanic Alliance GA in Hall County last year to support working-class and lower-income Latino families, said, “We would like to see a more permanent solution for our DACA recipients.”

Making that happen, she believes, begins with educating communities about DACA recipients, often referred to as “Dreamers.” They’re students, homeowners, firefighters and entrepreneurs with families, roots and future plans in America, Sarazua said.

“As a community and when I speak to some of our own DACA recipients here in Gainesville, they would like to see a stronger stand in support from local colleges and universities and the public,” Sarazua said.

There are about 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide. There are 4,000 eligible in Hall County alone, according to figures compiled by the Migration Policy Institute.

“It is disheartening to see those that we all depend on for legislative solutions put (DACA) lives on hold,” Sarazua said. “What is scarier is that in these hands lies the future of these recipients with some of them having to go back to countries that they do not consider their own.”

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