They are fondly referred to as “Dreamers,” the young immigrants brought into the U.S. with no legal status by their parents and who after much lobbying, were able to obtain temporary legal immigration status under the Barack Obama administration.
Of course, just when the some 700,000 young immigrants thought they could finally breathe a little easier, along comes the Donald Trump administration, which promptly rescinds the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and, just like that, turned the dream back into a running nightmare for these young Dreamers.
Almost four years later and despite a Supreme Court ruling last month that reinstated DACA, it looks like The Donald and his cronies are not done being the nightmare to these immigrants.
Now, some lawyers say, the administration, in clear defiance of the Supreme Court ruling, is rejecting new DACA applications. This after the justices clearly ruled that the Trump administration hadn’t followed federal procedural law or justified terminating DACA in 2017. They even went a step further to dub the rescission: “arbitrary and capricious.”
Immediately after the ruling, Trump took to his favorite communication platform to frame the loss with his usual Squealer Spin.
“The Supreme Court asked us to resubmit on DACA, nothing was lost or won,” Trump tweeted falsely.
A day later, the deputy director for policy at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, Joseph Edlow, issued a statement that stated, again falsely, that the decision “merely delays the President’s lawful ability to end the illegal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program.”
Still Monday, July 15, 2020, marked 25 days after the ruling and the deadline for the administration’s Justice Department to file for a rehearing. It did not. But neither have officials at the DHS and U.S. CIS moved to restore the program.
Lawyers like Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer, associate clinical professor at Cornell Law School, told the LA Times the U.S. CIS is still rejecting first-time applications, or is confirming receipt of the new applications but then not acting on them.
It is a clear violation of the court’s order. Throw in confusion from the top as Trump, in an interview with television network Telemundo on July 12, 2020, a day after his meeting with the Mexican president, contradicted himself, saying he would be issuing an executive order on DACA, and also sign a bill that would “give [Dreamers] a road to citizenship.”
The White House followed up with a statement saying Trump supports a legislative solution for DACA, potentially including citizenship, but not “amnesty.”
Then on Tuesday, July 16, 2020, in a Rose Garden news conference, Trump said he’s working on DACA “because we want to make people happy.”
On that same day, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Dick Durbin of Illinois, as well as 31 others, wrote to the acting Homeland Security secretary demanding the department “immediately comply” with the court’s ruling and “fully reinstate DACA protections, as the Court’s decision unequivocally requires.”
As of today, July 17, 2020, there has been no move forward for Dreamers as the nightmare goes on.
Among those living the nightmare according to the magazine Mother Jones, is Carlos Martinez who was brought by his parents to the U.S. at age 8 from Mexico. He was one of the first people in Arizona to get DACA back in 2012 and became a poster child for the program. In 2012 and again in 2015, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) brought a large poster board portrait of Martinez to the Senate floor to help illustrate the need to protect DACA from Republicans and their continuous efforts to kill it without proffering a real solution.
But for the last 11 months, Martinez, now 38, has been locked up in a for-profit immigration detention center in Arizona, has lost his DACA status and fallen ill with COVID-19.
Why? Simply because he decided to visit his grandmother in Sonora, Mexico as a DACA immigrant. He tried to reenter the U.S. 45 minutes after leaving and realizing he may have made a mistake in leaving. But when he showed his DACA permit to U.S. Customs and Border agents, they did not let him back into the country he has known most of his life. Instead, he was taken into custody, classified as an “arriving alien,” and sent to the Eloy Detention Center.
As Martinez told Mother Jones of his dream that has become a nightmare: “I’ve given so much to this country that still doesn’t want me here…. I’m not here because of a DUI or because of domestic violence. I’m not here because I’m a criminal. I’m here because I crossed the border for 45 minutes.”
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow