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US Supreme Court Allows Dreamers ‘To Breathe Again’

Congress Should Permanently Protect DACA Recipients from Deportation

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students celebrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, June 18, 2020.  © 2020 AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The United States Supreme Court ruled on Thursday to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to scrap Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that protects certain immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation. It lifts some fear and gives new hope for the more than 600,000 DACA recipients in the US and will help keep families together.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the ruling. When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the move to terminate DACA in 2017, Human Rights Watch spoke to DACA recipients – known as Dreamers – as they protested in the shadow of Trump Tower in New York City. One devastated protester told us the decision “would essentially mean my life is over.”

Nearly three years later, we spoke again with two of the DACA recipients we met that day.

Sarai Bravo, 27, who came to the US from Mexico at age 4 and is now a director at an information services agency, said that since that day in 2017, “I’ve been sort of walking on eggshells making sure I didn’t bring attention to myself.”

With the Supreme Court’s decision, she said, “I think a lot of us are just able to breathe again.”

But Bravo wants this decision to be the first of many immigration reforms, including expanding protection to Black and other deeply rooted immigrants who are not DACA eligible.

“The fight is just beginning,” she said. “We now have to continue to widen the conversation to not only include Dreamers. We are fighting for a pathway to citizenship and comprehensive reform.”

Said Silvia Huerta, a 26-year-old Harvard University and MIT medical student who was 6 when she came to the US: “There is a basic level of decency and respect every human being deserves. I hope that our laws moving forward reflect that. That’s what we need.”

Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it is up to Congress to listen to Bravo, Huerta, and so many other Dreamers defending immigrants’ rights. Congress should promptly enact legislation that would broadly and permanently protect DACA recipients.

To see one DACA recipient’s story of activism, check out “From Here” at the Human Rights Watch New York Film Festival, now online and available until June 20. Watch it here

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