DREAMers Celebrate SCOTUS Decision, Vowing to Continue Fight for Immigration Reform

Jun 18, 2020
5:51 PM

Activists hold a banner in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June 18, 2020. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When 29-year-old DACA recipient and Tucson resident Jessica Rodriguez heard the news from the Supreme Court this morning, she said she felt relief.

“I felt relief knowing that the consequences or the worst case scenarios were not going to happen any time soon. At least not with this round at the Supreme Court,” Rodriguez said.

“I think I was relieved and I think most of the folks were able to take a deep breath and soak in that for now, DACA stays,” she added.

The Supreme Court ruled this morning that President Trump’s 2017 effort to end DACA cannot stand. In a 5-4 decision, the court said that the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind DACA was “arbitrary and capricious.”

DREAMers celebrated what was an unexpected victory in a majority conservative court. 

“I was surprised but very overjoyed,” said Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez, 29, a graduate student at Harvard and a DACA recipient. “I recognize that it is a tenuous victory but one that is worth celebrating nonetheless. And I’m very hopeful,” said Gonzalez.

“You always try to keep hope alive no matter what,” said DREAMer Juan Escalante, 31. Escalante, a former contributor to Latino Rebels, works as the digital campaigns manager at FWD.us, a DC-based organization focused on immigration and criminal justice reform.

“The truth is, a majority of Americans continue to support DREAMers, and that support has only increased after seeing and witnessing the horrific and anxiety-filled road that Donald Trump and his friends have made us walk from 2017 to 2019 to 2020, up until this moment,” Escalante added. 

A poll from the Pew Research Center released Wednesday reported that 75 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for the country’s undocumented population.

“At the same time our message is clear to Congress. The time is now, the momentum is here and we can no longer hold off for their inaction,” Escalante said.

Comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants is still far from being a reality. For that and other reasons, Thursday’s victory is incomplete.

The biggest fear is that the Trump administration will move again to rescind DACA. It has that power and the Supreme Court reaffirmed that in their decision today. “The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA,” Justice Roberts wrote in today’s decision. “All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so.”

For many, DACA was also never a permanent solution to begin with. Although it allows people who are in the U.S. without authorization to receive work permits, it doesn’t allow them to apply for citizenship and does not guarantee they will be shielded from deportation. 

“Just because you’ve been issued that employment authorization document, doesn’t mean you can’t be taken into custody and deported,” immigration attorney and Latino Rebels contributor Matthew Kolken said.

A 2019 CNN investigation found that under the Trump administration, some DACA recipients whose deportation cases had been closed were having their cases reopened.

But for many DREAMers, their lives will go on in the U.S. regardless of what the Trump administration chooses to do next.

DREAMers and advocates expressed elation and a willingness to keep fighting on social media this morning.

Rodriguez said in her view, today’s decision wouldn’t have happened without the current protests against police brutality. “I do believe that the positive outcome from the Supreme Court today was because of the uprising that has been happening in the last 23 days,” she told Latino Rebels.

To her, this moment is a win for solidarity.

“So I do want to highlight that the outcome is because of that, and it is our duty to show up, to join in solidarity with the movement and centering Black lives. Also Black trans women who each day we see that there is another one who is being taken away from us,” Rodriguez said.


Ana Lucía Murillo is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. and the 2020 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She tweets from @analuciamur