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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

What we won: A Dreamer reflects on the Supreme Court’s DACA ruling and the battle ahead

I woke up yesterday dreading a potential Supreme Court decision that could upend my life. As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and plaintiff in a federal lawsuit before the court, I knew ours was one of very few cases yet to be decided this term. Most court analysts said the news wouldn’t be good.

At exactly 10:03, I found out they were wrong. On a text message thread with my colleagues and friends to monitor the court’s website for the half hour when the rulings come each decision day, one person sent a link. “DID WE WIN?!,” she asked. My heart stopped. “Somebody say something,” I asked. Next message: “ ‘For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the Acting Secretary did violate the [Administrative Procedure Act], and the decision to rescind DACA ‘must be vacated.’ ”

Tears streamed my face. My body shook. We had won.

DACA changed my life. Before DACA, I lived in fear of being separated from my family every day. Getting into college was difficult, and accessing financial aid impossible. I couldn’t work legally in the country. My future was always deeply uncertain.

When President Obama announced DACA in 2012, following a powerful campaign for administrative relief led by immigrant youth, it changed my life. With DACA, I was protected from being torn from my children and put in a cage. I got a work permit and went to work at Make the Road New York, where I’ve helped my fellow immigrants access legal services and organize themselves to build our community’s power. I was even able to buy a house.

And then came the Trump administration, which put a target on our backs from day one. Even before his inauguration, rumors swirled that he would act to rescind DACA. In September 2017, he finally did, using bogus justifications to score points with his anti-immigrant base, regardless of the impact on 700,000 people like me and our families.

The announcement put my future in grave jeopardy. Would I be able to remain in this country? Would I be torn from my children? Even if I weren’t, how I would be able to support my family if I could no longer work?

I felt despair, but, surrounded by other young people in similar situations, I found strength and resolve to fight back. I joined the first federal lawsuit in the country to challenge the termination of DACA as a plaintiff. For three years, we have stood up to the president’s unlawful acts in the courts and in the streets.

Last November, I joined DACA recipients and mothers of DACA recipients in marching 230 miles from New York to Washington before the Supreme Court’s ruling. We marched through rain, sleet, and snow to make sure that the Supreme Court knew: Our home is here.

Now I know they heard us. It is simply incredible to feel our community’s power in this moment.

I know that, with Trump still in power and the likes of Stephen Miller advising him, this administration is already trying to come up with new hateful schemes to hurt our communities and put our futures at risk.

But we now have a Supreme Court ruling behind us, and we demand that the federal government honor it and move forward, not back. In the short term, that means respecting the court’s ruling and reopening the DACA program for new applications and advanced parole, which allows recipients to travel abroad to see our relatives.

The administration must also commit to stop sharing our personal information with immigration enforcement agencies, a revelation from another recent lawsuit.

Congress must also act. There are 11 million people in this country who need a full, swift path to citizenship.

Yesterday we won in the highest court in the land. Today we continue our fight for the liberation of all undocumented people.

Fernandez is lead organizer at Make the Road New York and a plaintiff in Wolf vs. Batalla Vidal, one of the DACA cases decided by the Supreme Court.