A group of Tennessee DACA recipients has just returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court as justices heard arguments in the case that will determine the fate of DACA – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
A dozen people left their jobs and families to defend the program, including Jazmin Ramirez – a community organizer for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
“What they’re feeling is excitement to be a part of a movement where they know that they’re not the only one going through the same difficulties, the same struggles,” says Ramirez. “But also, I know that it wasn’t an easy ask, to ask for them to take three days off. And they did it because this matters, and this is their life that is at stake.”
Created in 2012, DACA allows temporary protection from deportation to undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. as children and meet certain requirements. In the past seven years, nearly 8,000 Tennessee immigrants have benefited from the program.
In 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order terminating DACA. Ramirez says recipients’ ability to work and support their families now lies in the hands of the Supreme Court.
“What the Supreme Court is essentially deciding is whether the program was legal or not, and whether Trump had the administrative authority to terminate the program the way that he did,” says Ramirez.
Ramirez points to a 2018 poll by Middle Tennessee State University, which found that 75% of Tennessee voters believe DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for citizenship. She adds the state’s bankroll would shrink if it lost its DACA residents.
“And we also know that DACA in the state of Tennessee, brings about $23 million a year in state and local taxes,” says Ramirez.
The Supreme Court will likely reach a decision in the first half of next year.