What’s In The Future For SMC ‘Dreamers’?

by Christian Monterrosa and September Bottoms

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday, Sept. 5 the White House’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The Trump administration now puts the ball in Congress’ court, leaving it up to lawmakers to create a legislative solution to help Dreamers.

AG Sessions stated that DACA “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans” and that the United States “cannot admit everyone who would like to come here.”

“This does not mean they are bad people,” said Sessions, but urged that the interest of the American people should be put first.

With over 800,000 DACA recipients and 275,344 people set to have DACA expire in 2018 alone, dreamers around the country are reacting quickly to the announcement. Protesters quickly gathered outside of the White House.

According to the Latino Center At SMC, several thousand students are DACA recipients. The Stringer is awaiting confirmation on the exact number of recipients at SMC.

The school has since addressed the issue.

“‘Dreamer’ students are as integral a part of our community as anyone else,” said the school’s administration in a statement. “We will work to provide the greatest support to students affected by this decision, and campus and student leaders alike have already rallied in solidarity as well as to provide resources.”

The statement noted that SMC stands in support of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office update on the rescission of DACA.

You can read it here.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a list of regulations for DACA applicants and recipients.

You can read the list of regulations here.

Two of the most noteworthy issues for affected students are:

  1. DHS does not intend to terminate an individual’s DACA status prior to its stated expiration.
  2. An individual whose DACA status is set to expire between now and March 5, 2018 may still apply for a renewal of their DACA status — but the application for renewal must be accepted by the Department by October 5, 2017.

On campus, students and members from the I.D.E.A.S. Club, or Improving Dreams ,Equality, Access, and Success, gathered in the HSS building to discuss the announcement and talk about future options.

Former Associated Students Director of Instructional Support, Walther Esqueda, a DACA recipient, spoke with the Stringer minutes after the announcement by Sessions was given.

“My personal permit ends in three months and you know, I used to wash cars and sell gum on the street with my mom to make ends meet.
“This program allowed me to actually work and now I’m at a really good firm and I’m getting paid pretty well because I was able to work hard and contribute,” he said.

Esqueda will now have to asses what to do next.

“Unfortunately I have to face reality and I have to think, ‘yeah if this ends and I am not allowed to renew my permit for any reason… I’m going to have to go back to washing cars and selling stuff on the streets, because how else will I be able to sustain myself,” he said.

Esqueda, a Mexican native, was brought to the United States at age 4, only discovering his undocumented status in high school when he was applying for an internship and could not produce a social security number.

He recalls giving up on his classes and education after realizing it would not be easy for an undocumented student to thrive. Until 2012, when he found “a new hope” with DACA, a program that would allow him to work and seek higher education at SMC.

Other students who are DACA recipients can call the Latino Center at SMC for more information and the list of regulations given by DHS. They also offer a few words of empowerment.

“We are united in this fight, We are here to stay.”