Renewing DACA Once More Offers a Small Sliver of Hope for Dreamers

Around 154,000 immigrants are eligible to apply for a final two-year permit.

Hundreds took to the streets of downtown Santa Ana, California to protest the removal of DACA on September 05, 2017.Kevin Warn/Zuma

 

Her classmates were queasy when a science teacher assigned them to dissect a cow’s eye sophomore year in high school, but Amzi couldn’t have been more excited. “I was like, ‘yeah, give me the scalpel!'” she says. Now, the 21-year-old, who prefers we don’t use her last name to protect her identity, is preparing to graduate college in California with a nursing degree in June. She’s been looking forward to launching her dream career in medicine—but her plan hinges on whether she will still have legal status to work in the US come spring.

On September 5, the Trump administration announced it would start winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protections for 800,000 young adults, known as Dreamers. Amzi, who grew up in Mexico City and was brought here by her parents before the age of 16, is one of an estimated 154,000 immigrants eligible to apply for the program’s final round of two-year work and study permits. Those whose permits expire before March 5, 2018 can submit their application for a final renewal by October 5, this coming Thursday. (The Obama-enacted program originally allowed an unlimited amount of renewals.) Congress has six months to create some sort of replacement legislation before hundreds of thousands of students and young adults lose their legal status.

Trump’s announcement gave eligible Dreamers only a month’s notice to scrounge up the $495 renewal application cost. Nonprofits and government organizations have stepped in to help: Mission Asset Fund, a nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area, is covering Amzi’s application, along with that of 6,000 other Dreamers; Rhode Island and San Francisco are sponsoring applications as well. 

Amzi’s parents moved to the US on work visas when she was six years old, leaving Amzi behind in the care of her grandmother in Mexico City. Two years later, she packed her bags to reunite with them. “It was all very abrupt and sudden,” she remembers. “There was a really long time where I was here on an illegal basis and as I got older, I became more and more aware of that,” she says.

When applying to colleges, Amzi knew it would be impossible for her family to afford the out-of-state tuition she’d be forced to shoulder as an international student; she ended up enrolling in a local community college because it was the most affordable. In 2013, her DACA application was accepted and she qualified for in-state tuition and eventually transferred to a local university.

Her degree has given her the technical skills she’ll need to work as a nurse, at a time when the country is sorely in need of more of them: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than one million open nursing positions between 2012 and 2022. But since Trump’s inauguration, Amzi’s felt a “shift” in the way people view her and, she thinks it’s impacting her job applications. “The President has opened a window for people to voice their opinions in a negative way,” she says.It limits the way [Dreamers] think about where we can work and what schools we can go to.” For instance, she was invited to apply for an administrative position at a private clinic. But after she submitted her paperwork, the hiring manager stopped returning her calls.

Amzi’s been told that it takes about three months for DACA renewals to be processed. Since filing her application on September 28, all she’s been able to do is wait. “The big possibility of me having to go back to Mexico City is not what I wanted or planned for my future,” she says. “I grew up here, I’m earning a degree here—and I’m hoping to use it here.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate