10 Years After DACA, Dreamers Still Face Uncertainty

Over the past 10 years, DACA has faced many legislative challenges

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Wednesday marks ten years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) went into effect. The program gave undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. by their parents, a chance to live and work in the country

Currently, there are more than 640,000 DACA recipients or Dreamers living in the U.S. 

“I definitely consider the U.S. my home because it's where I’ve grown up since the age of five,” said Selene Gutierrez, DACA recipient. “Without DACA I would definitely still be in the shadows.”

Today, Gutierrez is in the process of transferring from San Diego City College to Azusa Pacific University as a psychology major.

“[Being in the program] has meant somewhat of stability and the ability to continue to pursue my dreams,” said Gutierrez. 

But the faith of her tomorrow remains unknown.

“DACA is not legal status,” said Narciso Cruz, an immigration attorney. “DACA is temporary protection for young people who enter this country before the age of 16. DACA is not amnesty”

Over the past 10 years, DACA has faced many legislative challenges. 

The latest came last year when a U.S. district court judge ruled the program would no longer be accepting new applicants.

There is a hearing scheduled next month in July.

“The purpose of that hearing is to decide the fate of DACA,” said Cruz. 

Meanwhile, immigration reform is stalled in the senate.

“I never thought that after 10 years I would still be in the same situation,” said Gutierrez. “I thought it would be sooner, a pathway to citizenship.”

The Dream Act, which would provide dreamers who go to college or join the military a pathway to citizenship, was introduced 21 years ago. Since then, it's been re-written over 10 times and has not passed. 

Opponents cite the cost of public services for undocumented immigrants and concerns about encouraging illegal migration.

But supporters view things differently.

“These people work in essential jobs,” said Cruz, referring to dreamers. “Sometimes they work in food delivery or a professional setting. I myself know a lot of colleagues, and attorneys, who are DACA recipients.”

Leaving the realities of undocumented people in limbo and the lives of dreamers like Gutierrez full of uncertainty. 

The act was first proposed in 2001, and the latest vote was in March 2021.

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