I did not expect to wake up Thursday, June 18, to a friend’s text: “SCOTUS ruled DACA is staying for the time being” with the raised hands emoji and a news article attached.
I’m a community reporter for The Orange County Register, covering cities from Fullerton to San Juan Capistrano. But the reason I have this job is because I’m a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipient.
In short, yes, your neighborhood reporter is a “Dreamer.”
For months, I’ve had dreams (or nightmares, perhaps) about being on a plane heading to South Korea, a country I haven’t been to in 14 years – since I was 11 and my parents sent me to a Van Nuys private prep school.
I even created some back-up plans in case the program preventing deportations and providing work permits to DACA recipients like me ended up being eliminated: Law school? An SAT tutor? A Korean translator? A full-time Uber driver?
All options I should probably keep in my back pocket, given the state of the newspaper industry (and DACA, for that matter), but for now, Thursday marks a day of relief and, frankly, pure joy.
It’s weird to cheer a political decision as a journalist. It’s weird to think that your life as you know it depends on something that a reporter should be impartial about.
But how can I not feel happy about Thursday’s Supreme Court decision?
DACA has given me my livelihood. It has given me an opportunity to pursue my dream. It has given me a chance to be the best person I can be.
And DACA has done the same for so many of my friends – young people who work in fields as diverse as medicine and education to technology and the arts. Every day, they inspire me to work harder, to push forward.
For us, for hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients in Southern California, Thursday is a break – however temporary – from years of anxiety, from years of intensely following court battles and from years of pondering plans B, C, D and E.
Thursday means I can continue to have a legal ID – an employment authorization card – that lets me fly cross-country to see my friends and take vacations (once the pandemic is over). It means, frankly, living a life as close to normal as can be.
I know Thursday’s decision isn’t the end. DACA is and has always been a Band-Aid.
And the court didn’t rule on whether DACA is legal, just on whether the federal government acted properly in ending the program that allows immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children to work legally and prevents their deportation.
Months and years of waiting for a permanent solution are ahead.
A DACA recipient may not tell you their status, because some of us are understandably not comfortable talking about this issue. But as you think and talk about DACA, consider Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statement on Thursday.
“Today’s decision is an important victory, for now, for the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers – including over 200,000 Californians – who contribute deeply to their communities each day,” he said. “They are our neighbors, our coworkers and our friends.”
Or in my case, your neighborhood reporter. I’ll be here for you, as long as I hope.
Source: Orange County Register