By Astrid Silva
June 24, 2016
Last week was the anniversary of the announcement of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which gives unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children temporary protection from deportation. Thursday, Obama's attempt to expand that program to millions of immigrant parents and others was dealt a crushing setback.
A deadlocked Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling on a suit brought by 26 states that blocked the program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA. The 4-4 ruling has left my parents and millions of families like mine in limbo -- yet again.
The morning that Obama announced DACA, on June 15, 2012, I received many calls from my friends on the East Coast, but there was one I won't forget. The caller asked me, "How old are you?" I told him I was 24. That's when my senator, Harry Reid, responded "You're in!" and told me that things were about to get a lot better. Little did I know how right he was. DACA changed my life forever.
I am able to drive and work and live without fear. Thanks to DACA, I have been able to go to college and devote my life to fighting for fair and comprehensive immigration reform for all.
Looking back on the anniversary of this program that changed my life, I am grateful that hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, like me, have been able to contribute to the country that we call home.
Yes, I am grateful, but I am also angry today -- angry for my family members, neighbors and loved ones. Despite qualifying for deferred deportations under President Obama's 2014 directives, they are being forced to remain in the shadows by a partisan lawsuit -- and now, in part, by a partisan effort against filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
To know that the hard-fought protections that I celebrated in 2012 are still not available to many whom I love motivates me every day.
DACA currently provides me with the ability to live without the constant fear of deportation. And the same could be true for millions of undocumented parents who would qualify for the DAPA program, if only Republican governors and attorneys general hadn't decided to stand in the way of that relief. We are mad, but we are not defeated.
Yes, the decision is a setback, but I know the immigrant community will continue the fight, and parents like mine, who immigrated to the United States, will fight to provide a better life and better home for their children.
Watching Donald Trump rise to prominence on the back of anti-immigrant stereotypes and xenophobic rhetoric, I am reminded just how much there is to fight for. While I am fortunate enough to have DACA, as long as hateful rhetoric and Donald Trump's brand of politics prevail, DACA and programs like it are in danger.
And it's not just Donald Trump who endangers these programs. Republican lawmakers in Congress have voted to end DACA and DAPA, and in doing so, destroy the protection from deportation for thousands of young people like me -- people who contribute to America's success.
This includes GOP Congressman Joe Heck from my home state of Nevada, who recently voted against DAPA. And Rep. Heck is running for Senate this cycle. So for me and countless other Nevadans, the stakes couldn't be higher.
This week, it may seem that the partisan politics and fear-mongering of 26 Republican governors and attorneys general prevailed, but it won't be enough. While I can't vote in this election, I will dedicate everything I can to making sure the victories we've won are protected and that Republican politicians and candidates threatening the immigrant community are held accountable in November and beyond.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com