DACA upheld by SCOTUS, but what’s next for LMU’s DREAMers?

Thursday, July 16, 2020

DACA upheld by SCOTUS, but what’s next for LMU’s DREAMers?

By Raven Yamamoto, Robyn De Leon

[UPDATE 7/17/2020 12:09 P.M.]: In the original article it was noted that '30 DACA recipients are chosen yearly' for the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowships for New Americans, however it has come to our attention that this fellowship is not exclusive to DACA recipients. It is open to immigrants and children of immigrants. As of now, the correction has been made.

On June 18, The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that the Trump administration cannot terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA).


For months, DACA recipients across the country were in limbo, waiting for the Supreme Court to decide the validity of the law and, in turn, their futures. The fate of our very own undocumented Lions hung in the balance with every day that passed without any news. 


The SCOTUS ruling comes as a win for many and ASLMU officers are viewing it as motivation to continue finding ways to better support LMU’s undocumented community. 


“I'm very grateful that this is the first step in the right direction, but I truly don't think that it's enough,” said incoming ASLMU Director of Culture and Social Justice Alaysia Baker-Vaughn.


Baker-Vaughn’s ideas for how to support our undocumented Lions include requesting more resources from the University’s administration for DACA recipients such as scholarships and other specific programs.


“Having access to college is a privilege that not everybody has access to,” said Baker-Vaughn.

In an email, the Office of National and International Fellowship (ONIF) included the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowships for New Americans, where 30 immigrants and children of immigrants are chosen yearly to receive up to $90,000 towards their graduate education.


Newly-elected ASLMU Director of Undocumented Student Services Leslie Argüelles also plans to implement more support of her community with her position in student government. 


Argüelles’s larger vision for her position is a continuation of the work started by past Directors and students outside of ASLMU: creating a "DREAM Center” for undocumented students at LMU. 


“What we want, eventually, is to have a physical space because I think that safety is important,” said Argüelles. “It’s kind of starting with some pilot programs that we hope to take off this year and in the next semester as well.” 


According to Argüelles, an LMU “DREAM Center” would also offer legal aid and other resources to undocumented Lions.


“It’s difficult because a lot of the way we operate and have operated, as far as undocumented students, has been kind of underground for the sake of anonymity, said Argüelles. So I think we’re trying to roll all of that out in a way that is safe, essentially.”


Similarly, ASLMU Diversity and Inclusion Senator Camille Orozco hopes to cultivate a relationship with Loyola Law School to better support LMU’s DREAMers during her term. 


I know that it would probably take a lot of work and more than one year to actually get a clinic happening between the Law School and LMU,” said Orozco, “but if I could at least start those conversations and find people who are willing to listen to my questions, then I'd love to be able to take that on and work with Resilience to try to find something.”


Orozco also encourages students to take advantage of opportunities to give their input on how ASLMU can better support them.


“I think that sense of community could be really strong with LMU. It's just a matter of refocusing the way that we define social justice as a collaborative effort, instead of taking on this individual leadership.”


DACA’s confirmation was also felt among faculty and staff DACA advocates such as theology professor Dr. Cecilia Gonzáles-Andrieu. 


“My first reaction was of course to cry,” said Dr. Gonzáles-Andrieu. “Because there was just so much fear, you know, and [...] It's [about] ‘what's going to happen to this student and this student and this student and their stories?’ So it's very personal.”


For Dr. Gonzáles-Andrieu, the next step in affecting larger change is with the upcoming general election. 


After DACA’s confirmation, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf stated in a press release that the ruling “usurps the clear authority of the Executive Branch to end unlawful programs.” 


Meanwhile, the American Dream and Promising Act 2019 passed in the House of Representatives and is waiting to reach the Senate floor. The bill calls to keep DACA permanently and provides a clearer path towards resident status. The legislation would also prohibit the removal process for “certain aliens who entered the United States as minors,” if passed.


Not just at the presidential level, but we need a new Senate because we cannot pass comprehensive immigration reform without it,” said Dr. Gonzáles-Andrieu.


Even with the University’s move to nearly all-online learning due to COVID-19, Director Argüelles still plans to keep undocumented Lions in community virtually, if not in-person, with event programming.


“These initiatives will take action whether we are back on campus or remote,” said Argüelles. “It’ll definitely be a little harder to get people there but that’s definitely not a challenge that we’re not willing to face.”


Beyond that, Argüelles explained the need for students to “show up and out” right now for their undocumented peers.


“I think people need to be a little bit more attentive in the things that they share and the way that they live. You can share a post that says ‘fuck ICE,’ but then you can also perpetuate that system,” said Argüelles. “Evolve it in the way that you speak and in the way that you act.”

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