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Supreme Court Restores DACA, Advocates Call for Permanent Path to Citizenship

Press Release from the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center

CINCINNATI, OHIO – On June 18, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 that the Trump Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was “arbitrary and capricious;” resulting in the restoration of the DACA program which provides protections for more than 700,000 young immigrants. The ruling was celebrated by the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC), Ohio Nuns on the Bus and the leaders of IJPC’s Youth Educating Society (YES) program.

Sandra Ramirez, IJPC’s Immigration Program Organizer and leader of the YES program shared, “Today, we can take a deep breath, and celebrate a much needed victory.”

After years of pressure from young undocumented immigrants, President Obama created the DACA program in 2012 by issuing an Executive Order. The program was offered to undocumented youth who had entered the United States before age 16, who had lived in the country since 2007, and were between the ages of 15 and 31. In exchange for protection against deportation, DACA recipients have to re-apply every two years, pay a fee of $495 and undergo a background check. DACA also grants its recipients work authorization, as well as the right to go to school and to obtain a driver’s license.

In September of 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded the Executive Order and rapidly phased out the DACA program. Not long after, immigration advocates filed lawsuits challenging the rescission of DACA, which resulted in pieces of the program being restored. The cases were combined and expedited to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in November of 2019 and issued a ruling June 18, 2020 declaring that the way in which DACA was terminated was unlawful. The Court’s ruling restores DACA to its original 2012 version, thereby allowing new applications and restoring the Advanced Parole program, which grants permission to DACA recipients who wish to visit their home countries.

Samantha Searls, a Program Manager at IJPC, explained that “The DACA program is temporary, and this litigation process has proved that. DACA still isn’t safe, and it could be ended in another way by the Trump Administration. We need a permanent solution for DACA recipients.”

One local DACA recipient and YES leader, Sandra Martinez, explained that after she heard about the Supreme Court’s ruling, she felt “a lot of mixed emotions, but mainly relief.”

After finishing high school, Martinez decided to work instead of continuing her education, worried she wouldn’t be able to complete her degree if DACA was taken away. She told WLWT Channel 5, “Now, with everything that just happened today, I’m definitely going to go to college and start that up again.”

For now, immigrant rights activists from YES are celebrating this victory. Ramirez continued, “Our members can continue to use their degrees that they worked hard to earn, to work at jobs that serve the Cincinnati community and to share their stories without fear. Their home is here, and they are here to stay.”

The DACA program is not part of legislated immigration law and could be taken away again at any moment. What our DACAmented community needs is a permanent solution: a path to citizenship. IJPC and YES calls for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act, to a vote on the Senate floor. The bill passed the House of Representatives in June of 2019 and would create a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and other undocumented youth. The time is now for Congress to protect DACA recipients once and for all.

Searls ended by saying, “when we stand together and demand change, we can create a more just and peaceful world.”