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Fighting each day for the America we aspire to be

This guest blog was contributed by Krystina François, member of LWV of Miami-Dade County and Executive Director of the Office of New Americans in Miami.

 

On the week that marks the eighth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Supreme Court has decided to overrule the wrongful termination of this crucial program. Since the September 5, 2017, announcement by US Attorney General Sessions on the decision to terminate DACA, more than 700,000 families have held their collective breath on whether they would be here to stay.

This historic moment recognizes that the “DACAmented” members of our community will continue to live in this country free from the fear and abuse that is often experienced by their parents. DACA recipients are our neighbors, family members, and friends. DACA recipients feed our families, have children are in our kids’ classrooms, are our first responders, and are innovators in the mists of this global pandemic.

In addition to fearing for their health, years of uncertainty have left many living in fear of being deported. They see their US-born children grow up and wonder if they are valued in a country that they have called home for most of their lives. DACA recipients are people who came to the US while they were children and were raised as Americans, often finding out they were undocumented when they applied for their first job or submitted their application for college. Over eight years, many of these youth have bought homes, and started families and careers. Today’s ruling has a ripple effect on all undocumented and mixed-immigration-status families, in addition to the systems that support them, like our public education system, institutions of higher educations, Fortune 500 companies, and healthcare systems. 

DREAMers and DACAmented Americans, like many other immigrants, are the embodiment of the American dream. They fight each day for the America we aspire to be and have pushed us to be better through tenacity and ingenuity.  Like their US-born Millennial and Gen- Z counterparts, DACA recipients are civically minded and engaged around the issues they are passionate about—be it calling their legislators, signing petitions, testifying in front of the US Supreme Court, or running for local elected office when eligible. They are pushing us to perfect our union.

This comes at a time when public trust in our government institutions is at an all-time low and faith in our democracy is being challenged. Today’s Supreme Court ruling demonstrates that the system is not broken. The underlying premise of this case relies on the checks-and-balances between executive authority and judicial review, in the absence of congressional action. By overruling the wrongful termination of this crucial program, the court serves to check the powers of the executive branch, sending a signal that our executive branch’s power is not limitless on issues of immigration and executive orders. 

This ruling makes clear that Congress must act in a bipartisan manner to provide permanent legal protections for DREAMers and their families, without using them as a bargaining chip for enforcement and border wall funding. The time is now.