ONTARIO — Created in 2012 by President Barack Obama, Deferred Action for Child Arrivals protects undocumented immigrants from deportation who were brought into the U.S. as children. Through the renewable two-year period, recipients are eligible to obtain a work permit in the U.S.
Since President Donald Trump took office, he has been working to rescind DACA, starting in 2017. Federal courts were able to stop that ruling, allowing current DACA recipients to keep their status (and renew their status), but freezing all new applicants. According to Ontario School District’s Migrant Education Program Director Anabel Ortiz-Chavolla, the hold has been on since October 2017.
On Nov. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Trump administration worked lawfully when it rescinded the program. A judgement on that is expected in the spring.
While school districts don’t track the data of how many DACA students are in their district, Ortiz-Chavolla said that there are still families that come to her to voice their concerns.
But while a lot of people are concerned about their future if DACA is taken away, Ortiz-Chavolla said it’s the college students who are most worried.
“The ones that are really struggling with just the thought of it being canceled or revoked are the older students that have had DACA for a few years,” Ortiz-Chavolla said. “Because they have graduated from high school and they gone off to college. So we have bright, bright individuals who are this close to graduating, but if there is no more DACA, they will not be able to work.”
Without the ability to get a work permit, and without a social security number, Ortiz-Chavolla said there is no way that many college students would be able to get a job after graduation.
“The fear I’ve heard from them is, ‘I’m not sure what I’m going to do,’” Ortiz-Chavolla said. “And the fear of, is U.S. CIA going to deport me? Are they going to let me stay here? But if I do stay here, what am I going to do? Am I going to work at McDonalds? Not even, because there’s no social security. There’s this cloud of uncertainty.”
Current student worries
A graduate of Nyssa High School in 2018, Paola Amaral is a student at Eastern Oregon University studying to be a teacher. Originally from Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, Amara arrived in Nyssa when she was 3 years old and was able to stay in Nyssa School District through DACA.
Amaral said she has been closely following current discussions on DACA, as every move could affect her future.
“There are a lot of opportunities that we will be deprived of,” Amaral said. “For my career as an educator, I won’t be able to do anything in pursuing that career. There won’t be much for people to do… Without it, we wouldn’t be able to work under legal status. There might be some opportunities for me, but they would be hard to come by.”
While DACA students are not eligible for federal financial aid, many like Amaral have been able to find other means of assistance towards a college education. Amaral is attending Eastern Oregon with the Dream.US National Scholarship.
If DACA were to go away, Amaral said she is unsure about her ability to even attend Eastern Oregon in the future.
“I would have to finish my education, but it might be out of pocket,” she said.
Right now, Amaral said some of her peers are also concerned, but there is an air of uncertainty as everyone will be waiting months before a decision is made.
“There are a lot of groups in school that are getting involved, but we don’t know what is going to happen,” she said.