PART THREE OF A THREE-PART SERIES ON DACA REPEAL
By Jubenal Aguilar
Thousands of young adults protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, stand to lose protections if Congress does not take action for DACA recipients to remain legally in the country. However, options still exist for those individuals to protect themselves from an immediate threat of deportation.
On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump announced the Obama-era initiative would be phased out within six months, according to The Dallas Morning News. The program gave the children of unauthorized immigrants, many of whom were brought to the U.S. illegally, a reprieve from deportation and the right to work.
“Repealing DACA should not have an impact on DREAMers in Texas,” Joe May, Dallas County Community College District chancellor, said in a districtwide message to students and employees on the day of the announcement.
But, the changes and uncertainty may make students feel unsettled and fearful.
“Students may experience stress or anxiety related to the recent political discussions around DACA,” Katherine Woods, a Brookhaven College licensed psychologist and professional counselor, said in an email to The Courier.
“Anxiety and depression can negatively impact school work,” Woods said. These concerns can affect a student’s ability to concentrate or focus. They can also negatively impact sleeping patterns and eating habits and cause feeling of restlessness or exhaustion.
Woods said the Counseling Center provides free counseling to any currently enrolled student and can help them find additional resources outside of Brookhaven based on their individual needs.
In his announcement, Trump gave Congress until March 5, 2018 to come up with a solution to the nearly 800,000 individuals protected by the program, according to CNN.
If Congress is unable to reach an agreement by then, DACA will begin to expire, causing nearly 300,000 people to lose their status throughout 2018, according to CNN. Another 320,000 will lose their status between January and August 2019.
According to The Washington Times, out of about 154,000 permits set to expire between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018, roughly 133,000 were renewed before the Oct. 5 deadline. The Department of Homeland Security received another 5,000 applications after the deadline.
TEXAS DREAM ACT
In his message, May said Texas already had a law in place before DACA to help students continue their education. “The Noriega Bill’s sole focus was to provide a path to affordable higher education,” he said. “It is not an immigration law.”
House Bill 1403, also known as the Texas DREAM Act or the Noriega Bill, provides in-state tuition to certain non-immigrant and undocumented students. The Noriega Bill was passed by the 2001 state legislature, making Texas the first state to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, according to the DMN.
According to a report from Brookhaven’s Office of Planning and Research, 10,825 students have enrolled in DCCCD colleges benefiting from the bill since the 2009-2010 academic year. Of those students, 1,766 students were enrolled in Brookhaven.
According to the report, 506 students are currently enrolled that may be DACA recipients.
However, the accurate number of DCCCD students that are impacted by the repeal of DACA is unknown.
“We have no official record of DACA students … all we know is that the student is documented,” Michael Dennehy, associate vice president of Planning, Research and Institutional Effectiveness, said.
PREPARE FOR THE END
According to the DMN, if DACA begins to expire, individuals who lose their benefits may still have some options.
In an interview with the DMN, attorneys at the Immigration Legal Resource Center, or ILRC, said recipients should know their expiration date, which is when their work permits will also expire. Employers cannot ask how someone obtained their work permit, but may verify employment authorization after it expires.
Individuals should continue to use their Social Security number if they have one. However, ILRC attorneys said they can only be used for financial transactions, such as banking and filing taxes.
According to the DMN, immigration advocates said individuals should build up three months of finance in case a deportation case follows expiration of their DACA.
According to The Washington Post, a report by the Migration Policy Institute indicated that as many as 3.6 million undocumented individuals could be in line for permanent legal status under one of the current five proposed bills in Congress.
Each proposed bill, according to MPI analysts, would go well beyond in protecting the nearly 800,000 protected by DACA by expanding on eligibility requirements.