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After Trump administration's decision to end DACA, Minnesota’s undocumented community vows to fight back

Catalina Morales
MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
Catalina Morales speaking during Tuesday's rally: “We’re fighting for people that have contributed their whole lives to this country.”

Minnesota immigration advocates and residents affected by the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, are vowing to resist the controversial move. 

“We’re fighting for people that are in our community,” said Catalina Morales, during a Tuesday evening rally in Minneapolis. “We’re fighting for people that have contributed their whole lives to this country.”

Morales, whose Mexico-born parents came the U.S. when she was 2 years old, is among more than approximately 6,000 Minnesotans enrolled in DACA program, a group known as Dreamers.

Created in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, DACA let people like Morales — undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children — get work permits and receive temporary but renewable protection from deportation. Dreamers are also eligible for drivers’ licenses, state health insurance as well as limited ability to travel for humanitarian and educational purposes.    

It was because of DACA that Morales was able to drive legally and get a job with the faith-based organizing coalition ISAIAH three years ago — both of which have been key to allowing her provide her and her family with a good life, she says.

All of that is now up in the air. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration is ending the DACA program as of March 5, 2018. The federal government will not process new DACA applications received after Tuesday, and unless Congress passes legislation that would allow DACA recipients to keep their status or become permanent residents, Morales and the 800,000 other DACA recipients nationwide will start losing protections on March 6. Among other things, after that date DACA recipients would no longer be able to be lawfully employed and would be subject to deportation. (Recipients already enrolled in DACA who renew their enrollment before the deadline will be able to work for up to two more years, however.)

'American in every single way'

Now Dreamers and their advocates are planning to do whatever they can to see that Congress acts. At a gathering at the Minnesota State Capitol Tuesday, Juventino Meza, a DACA recipient and student at Mitchell Hamline Law School in St. Paul, said that leaders of his community are prepared to work with both Democrat and Republican officials to address the issue. “As we think about what comes next,” he said, “we want Congress to pass a bill that recognizes the complexity of the issue and creates a permanent solution, not only for DACA holders but for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.”

At the Minneapolis rally Tuesday night, Morales echoed a similar sentiment, telling the crowd to challenge their representatives and push them to legislate a plan to put Dreamers on a path to citizenship. “Taking away DACA is not a popular thing in this country,” she said. “A minority wants this in this country. So we need to start speaking out.”

Participants at Tuesday night's DACA rally in Minneapolis holding signs.
MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
Participants at Tuesday night's DACA rally in Minneapolis holding signs.

David Soto, a DACA recipient, said he plans to “mobilize with the rest of the Dreamers” to save the program, which protected him from deportation five years ago. “I will definitely speak out more,” he said. “I know that I won’t just pick up my bags and leave; not without a fight.”

Like many Dreamers, the U.S. is the only country Soto has ever really known. He was 6 years old in 1992, when he and his older brother were smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico to join their parents. In 2008, Soto’s father was deported, and Soto himself was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for 45 days because of his own immigration status.

He was able to get out of detainment, after he agreed to regularly report to ICE officials, attend court hearings and renew his work permit. During that same period, Soto put himself through college, where he graduated with a two-year degree.

After the Obama administration authorized the DACA program in 2012, Soto was no longer subject to deportation proceedings and soon got a drivers license and found a job as a financial consultant at Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit serving the Latino community.

“Once DACA happened, I could actually see my future,” Soto said. “That was really the first time I thought about my future — going back to school, investing more in my career, planning for my future, buying a house and creating a retirement account.”

David Soto
MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
David Soto, a DACA recipient, said he plans to “mobilize with the rest of the Dreamers” to save the program, which protected him from deportation five years ago.

Like Soto, thousands of people across Minnesota were able to plan for their future because of DACA, said Sandra Feist, a Minneapolis immigration attorney. Today, many of her Dreamer clients are pursuing higher education degrees in science and engineering, while others have regular jobs to support their family.  

“They lived in this country and grew up in our community,” she said. “There’s no difference between a DACA kid and my niece. They have the same worldview; they have the same life experience; they’re American in every single way, except they were born in another country.”

Uncertainty in Minnesota's immigrant communities

The decision by the Trump administration leaves many of them open to deportation, however, a reality that’s stirred up fear and uncertainty among immigrant communities throughout the state.

Mitch Roldan, who co-founded the Spanish-language podcast Hablando Franco, said that frustration has been visible in the community since the news about the possible end of the DACA program resurfaced last week. “We obviously feel that fear,” he said. “But I’m hearing from our leaders, who are also Dreamers, to not give into that fear, to continue to fight and do everything we can to push back against this.”

One of the signs at the Tuesday night DACA rally in Minneapolis.
MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
One of the signs at the Tuesday night DACA rally in Minneapolis.

For some, that resistance means pressuring elected officials to come up with a permanent solution for DACA recipients. For others, it means participating in demonstrations and raising awareness about the challenges facing the undocumented immigrant community.

For Roldan, it means all of the above. “That fight right now is letting our congresspeople know what’s going on and doing everything we can to support people that we know have DACA,” he said. “It’s supporting them emotionally, helping raise their voice and giving them a platform to share their stories.”  

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Comments (30)

The USA is their home

What is sad is that these young people are Americans and this is their home...raised in this country...many since infancy. Frequently I refer to today's repub party as inhumane and without compassion...and this fits. This repub party is the one constantly claiming Christian values, while actually doing the work of that fallen angel. Today's repub party and especially trump is a conglomeration of selfish, greedy deceivers, many who are filled with hate, massive ignorance and misinformation. I am so disgusted with what is happening to our country and the destruction to the lives of others foisted on us by the right.

Executive Orders

An honest news media would put this issue in fuller context. DACA resulted from an executive order signed by President Obama - an action that he had previously said (multiple times) would be unconstitutional. That order was issued in the midst of his 2012 campaign for re-election. Sen Dianne Feinstein ( liberal Californian) said recently that DACA was always of questionable legality. A large number of legal experts have said likewise. Trump had every constitutional right to reverse that executive order, just as any President can reverse any executive orders of his predecessors.

I support allowing the people brought in illegally as children to stay in America. It's the only country most of them have known. They were granted de facto amnesty by the failure of many past Presidents to enforce immigration laws to any meaningful degree. But Democratic politicians and activists don't want genuine immigration reform. Few will say it publicly, but their goal is to import as many future Democratic voters as possible. They're aided by the cheap labor lobby in both major parties: Chamber of Commerce Republicans and Democratic tech company executives who want to undercut the incomes of citizens and legal immigrants.

Many prominent liberals used to lament the negative impact of massive immigration on lower-skilled citizens: the NYT editorial board, Paul Krugman, Nocholas Kristof, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, the late Barbara Jordan, and many others. Their former positions are now politically incorrect, and the mainstream media NEVER questions them about why they changed their positions.

Unconstitutional?

A large number of legal experts -100, to be exact--signed a letter to President Trump saying that the executive branch had the legal authority to implement DACA. It's within the executive's prosecutorial discretion not to pursue certain cases.

I sincerely doubt Trump had any constitutional misgivings about DACA. I'm prepared to bet he has never read the Constitution (I don't think he has the attention span to get through a menu). In any event, it's telling that these great declarations of principle always seem to arise in ways that victimize the least powerful. The fact that it fulfills a campaign process is a different matter, and not politikcal at all.

"I support allowing the people brought in illegally as children to stay in America." That's what DACA does, so what's the problem? And by "problem," I mean something more significant than "Obama did it."

"Their former positions are now politically incorrect, and the mainstream media NEVER questions them about why they changed their positions." If they were Republicans, it would be called a pivot. It's kind of like the way Trump "pivoted" on his support for DACA a few years back.

maybe or maybe not unconstitutional

A better point may be that some conservative leaning courts were likely to strike it down and soon. Considering that, I think it is sound policy for the 6 month delay and let congress fix it and codify it. There seems to be many on both sides of the aisle who want to put it into law.

The heartless thing to do would have been to let the courts strike it down and really cause chaos.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/politics/daca-anniversary-peril/index.html

Economics of Immigration Haven't Changed

It is definitely within prosecutorial discretion not to pursue certain cases, which usually results when a shortage of resources requires officials to prioritize what they do. But this discretion is limited to a case-by-case basis; DACA applies to a large group, not specific individuals. A perfect analogy would be for the President to order the IRS not to pursue collecting taxes on estates or capital gains, which would mostly benefit more affluent people. That discretion would have the effect of negating laws passed by Congress. Do you favor that type of "discretion"? Of course you don't - that's not your agenda, so you want those laws enforced, as do I.

Process matters in our Constitutional system. I favor the goals of DACA, but I oppose one-person rule to create or repeal laws without Congressional approval.

The economics of massive immigration haven't changed; such immigration, especially of low-skilled people, has hurt low-skilled people who are here legally (including citizens) - that's called supply and demand in labor markets. Political correctness can coerce journalists and politicians into denying this reality, which is exactly what has happened in the last ten years.

"But this discretion is limited to a case-by-case basis . . ."

Do you have an authority for this claim?

It is within prosecutorial discretion to prioritize certain classes of efforts over others. For example, the FBI probably is putting a higher priority on terrorism investigations than it does interstate auto theft. DACA creates a class of illegal residents who are deemed to pose minimal risk, and who are allowed to stay if they meet certain qualifications.

Obama made an executive order that continues to break the law

Obama and his administration did a very poor job in enforcing the laws that had already passed and many times had people openly admit they did not want to enforce those laws. It's a complicated mess that Obama took advantage of because of the cost of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants plus these Dreamers were being used by their parents in the hopes of staying in the US so it looks like stopping the program hurts children who were caught up in it.
DACA was completely a political stunt against the law of the land and used these kids (some now not kids). Obama even tried to expand DACA to undocumented parents by executive order and was stopped in the courts. This invited many, many people to our country in the hopes they could stay and move to the front of the line over the many immigrants who were trying to be here legally.
It can be argued that most of these in DACA are trying to be positive citizens in our country. Yet we would not be having this problem if Obama created an executive order that he could not do. Trump is actually trying to actively clean up this Obama mess.

Hi John,I agree these people

Hi John,

I agree these people got shafted by their parents, by congress and especially by Barack Obama who sold them a dream based on a false promise.

I also agree they should be offered a choice:

Stay here with perminent resident status and lose the opportunity at becoming a citizen or

Go home and apply for a visa, and then apply for citizenship through the normal proceedure.

I think that is humane and satisfies the law.

Parents

The parents are to blame for bringing children into the country illegally. It is shameful on their part, but it is not our responsibility to give them anything. Illegal immigration is merely that, illegal. Yes, they should leave and return to their country of origin, hard as that may be. They may then apply for legal immigration, and that process could be accelerated for them, but once here as citizens, they would merely seek to bring the rest of their family. These people are not doing any great good for this country, and in fact, by being here illegally, they are undermining our system and society. They are self-serving and we owe them nothing. That they take low-paying jobs does not help us at all. Without them, jobs would have to pay more and our idle youth would have work. No, I am not sympathetic to them, and sympathy does not outweigh principle and social structure. We need law-abiding citizens living here. I resent the fact that most immigrants seem to only value what stuff they can get here, the money they can make to send home. That drains our economy. It is the merest of coincidences if so-called President Trump agrees with me. It is too often that the Democrats are soft in their thinking and abandon principles, which are liberal values. Liberal does not mean laissez-faire, it should mean maintaining strong humanist standards and principles, which includes respect for law.

At what point does it stop.

A 15 year old kid who comes to this country last week with his illegal alien parents is classified as a "dreamer". Should he and his family be given citizenship over the millions who have done it legally and are waiting to be Americans? That is the question. Is a 2 year old child who has been here 1 year, again brought by illegal alien parents, eligible for citizenship? The average age for "dreamers" is 26 how many tried to become citizens legally? There needs to be a law to deal with the 600,000 plus people this affects. There also needs to be a law stopping this illegal entry with children as a way to become US citizens.

Do You Know How DACA Works?

I don't think you do.

DACA was open to those who came to the US before they were 16, and who have lived continuously n the US since June 15, 2007. They do not become citizens, but lawful permanent residents (who are eligible to apply for citizenship after a period of 5 years, or 3 years, if married to a US citizen). It only applies to individuals, not their families.

"The average age for "dreamers" is 26 how many tried to become citizens legally?" I will guess it's somewhere in the neighborhood of none. A person who is here illegally generally cannot apply for citizenship.

"There also needs to be a law stopping this illegal entry with children as a way to become US citizens." There is no law that makes "illegal entry with children . . . a way to become US citizens." Remember that DACA is about granting legal permanent residency, not citizenship. It also does not give the parents of "dreamers" any preference or advantage under the immigration laws.

Also--despite what you may believe, the "anchor baby" strategy doesn't work. I'm not saying it's never been tried, but it doesn't work.

"who are eligible to apply

"who are eligible to apply for citizenship after a period of 5 years, or 3 years, if married to a US citizen)"

And there is the rub. Obama had no authority to create a new class of immigrants, with a new set of rules.

These people may or may not have a culpability in their violation of our federal immigration law (we hold US citizens as young as 13 responsible for crimes). But the fact of the matter is, they committed a crime when they bypassed US Immigration.

It can be argued that not deporting them is justice denied, but speaking for myself, I could live with giving the benefit of the doubt, and allowing them to remain as perminant residents with the caveat they cannot apply for citizenship, ever.

I can see no benefit to allowing them to "jump the line" ahead of people that have honored our laws and played by the rules.

Obama Had No Authority

"Obama had no authority to create a new class of immigrants, with a new set of rules." Guess what? He didn't! The Executive Order set out criteria for the ICE to use in determining where best to expend its resources.

I'm not sure I know what you mean by "class of immigrants," anyway. THere are different types of visas, allowing entry for different periods of time and for different reasons, but classes? Never heard of them.

"It can be argued that not deporting them is justice denied, but speaking for myself, I could live with giving the benefit of the doubt, and allowing them to remain as perminant residents with the caveat they cannot apply for citizenship, ever." What would that accomplish, beyond the exercise of a little spite?

If DACA allows illegal

If DACA allows illegal immigrants to avoid deportation, AND provides, as you say, that they can apply for citizenship after 5 years, that my friend is a new type of immigration. The President cannot make immigration law.

I explained, quite clearly, what depriving them of the gift of citizenship accomplishes, but I'll say it again.

It doesn't reward people that committed a federal crime, at the expense of honest people who respect our laws and are waiting their turn.

What other laws do you think we should make allowances for? Do you think bank robbers should keep the loot if they committed the crime to help their kids? Should their kids get the loot?

Very Wrong

I explained, quite clearly, that DACA does not "make new immigration law." It is a directive not to pursue certain illegal immigrants. It is prosecutorial discretion. Yes, that discretion is being exercised in favor of people of whom you disapprove, but that does not make it unlawful. These people are illegal immigrants who are deemed to be a minimal risk. They are on a kind of years-long parole. DACA does not grant anyone citizenship. It gives them permanent residency, after which they may apply for citizenship. Denying them the right ever to apply for citizenship while letting them stay in the country is an absurd gesture of spite.

The "dreamers" that you are sneering at were children when they were brought here. I would doubt that it was their choice to do so.

"It doesn't reward people that committed a federal crime, at the expense of honest people who respect our laws and are waiting their turn." No one is turning those people away. The rest of the immigration system remains in place. It's not a zero-sum proposition.

"What other laws do you think we should make allowances for? Do you think bank robbers should keep the loot if they committed the crime to help their kids? Should their kids get the loot?" You see no difference between a violent property crime and illegal entry into the country by a child?

"DACA does not grant anyone

"DACA does not grant anyone citizenship. It gives them permanent residency, after which they may apply for citizenship."

Wait, what? Where are you getting your information, RB?

"DACA is an American immigration policy established by the Obama administration in June 2012. DACA allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit."

Delayed Action against Childhood Arrivals....a temporary reprieve for deportation proceedings.

Nothing in there about permanent residency, nothing about the right to apply for citizenship, ever.

Seems to me you are making a spirited defense of something you don't know much about. Maybe if you take the time to educate yourself on the issue, your whole opinion would be different....probably not, but at least you'd know what you are defending.

Oops.

Looks like I read the order wrong. Awkward!

It also looks like it comes very close to what you've been saying you would support: dreamers are allowed to stay, but there doesn't seem to be any defined way for them to become citizens. What could your objection possibly be? Seems to me you are making a spirited attack on something you don't know much about. Maybe if you take the time to educate yourself on the issue, your whole opinion would be different....probably not, but at least you'd know what you are attacking.

A simple "oops" would have

A simple "oops" would have gone a long way, RB. Instead, you double down by referring to my support for a solution, and then, somehow, you come out the other side calling it an attack.

I've also very clearly articulated my objection to allowing illegals any opportunity for citizenship. At least I thought it was clear, and I'm confident most readers understood it.

You're not even trying, RB.

Also, it *is* a zero sum

Also, it *is* a zero sum deal. There are quotas for immigration. You are suggesting we alter them to accomodate people (most are adults now) that violated federal law.

That is pretty cheeky, in my opinion.

Again, in my opinion, I'd rather have folks that respected the country they aspire to be citizens of to start the journey by obeying the law.

We Were Both Wrong

I was wrong about what DACA does. It sounds like the program is pretty close to what you advocated: "dreamers" can stay, but are not guaranteed permanency, and there is no defined way for them to become citizens. Isn't that what you said you could accept?

On the other hand, DACA does not alter the quotas for immigrant visas, and I have never suggested doing so. Pretty "cheeky" to ascribe that sentiment to me, in my opinion.

No, DACA does not alter

No, DACA does not alter quotas, because it is A) Temporary and B) Does not guarantee the illegals can stay.

INS does not factor people who enter criminally into the yearly quotas, but if they are granted permanent residency, they will be added into the allowable yearly influx.

This is not an arbitrary number that can be adjusted, it is a law; the 1964 Hart-Cellar Act as amended by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, to be precise.

Honestly, RB, take a few minutes to read up on this subject. It's really not polite to rely on me to educate you during a debate.

Manners and Accuracy

First, it is ICE, not the INS. Read up on it.

Second, you still are dealing with hypotheticals. "If" they are granted permanent residency, which under present law, they will not. If the law is amended to allow them to obtain permanent residency, the allowable yearly influx can similarly be adjusted by legislation. Hypothetically.

It's really not polite to make assumptions about what people are saying, Mr. Senker. Raising strawman arguments is also a poor way of convincing anyone of anything.

I did read up on it, RB. ICE

I did read up on it, RB. ICE is the enforcement arm of
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services...Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Says so right in the name.

You are right, however, that laws can be changed. Reagan got that done in 1986, rewarding 3.2 million illegals with amnesty; now we have 12 million more so that worked out swell.

Increasing the quota to accommodate illegals is going to be a tough sell this time around, I think.

Hmm

It must be a group email, I've seen that exact hypothetical several places now. Tell me Curtis, in this criminal enforcement world you envision, would you alternatively throw the children of your hypothetical bank robbers into prison with their parents? That certainly opens up a whole world of possibilities for our prison industry, crime by relation, what a concept!

King Herod in this raging

Authoritied the slaughter of the first borns sons is Israel as he felt threatened by a child named Jesus, whose parents took him out of harm's way. In many ways, the current situation repeats the story. Innocent children seen as a threaten to a crazed leader's fears of a future threat - the end of white supremacy in our society. These kids are assets to our country, just as previous waves of immigrants, but white racists can no longer coopt or control them through slavery, reservations, and race based legal restrictions and mob violence.

Republicans are trying to hold back the future and are wrecking our national values and success story in the process. Republicans, please give it up now!

DACA

I am not an attorney so I am not going to comment on whether DACA is legal or constitutional. What I would like to know is at what point does someone who is taking advantage of the program decide they will apply for citizenship? If there is a governmental delay in applying for citizenship what is it? Maybe who are citizens can help grease the wheels

Let's face it you are the type of person we want or should want in American. You don't receive anything for free - no welfare - you pay for your education. You are or have been in the Military. You pay taxes

Please apply for citizenship, stay and make American Stronger - again.

Citizenship?

Many of those eligible for DACA probably would like to apply for citizenship, but can't, under the present law. Normally, a person has to have been a lawful permanent resident for a period of time and then apply for citizenship. The "dreamers" are in the country unlawfully, so they cannot be lawful permanent residents and so may not apply for citizenship.

It is absurd because as you say, these are the type of people we want as Americans.

"You pay for your

"You pay for your education"

Or not https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/non-us-citizens

How many US citizens are denied these grants? Impossible to tell, but 1 is too many.

"No welfare"

I've disposed of this trope more times than I can count, but once again...

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/08/03/la-made-1-3b-in-illegal-immi...

The ignorance of the facts behind illegal immigration in general, and DACA in particular is dissapointing.

You Must Not Read Your Links

From the first link you posted: "Undocumented students, including DACA recipients, are not eligible for federal student aid, but you may still be eligible for state or college aid, in addition to private scholarships." Just as a general matter of constitutional law, legal immigrants are generally eligible for the same rights as US citizens, except for voting and the right to hold certain sensitive government jobs.

Your second link is to a Fox News story about one county in California. Why should anyone interested in knowing the facts (and lifting themselves out of so-called "ignorance") pay any attention to that? It hardly looks like what one would call an epidemic, is it? It's also not exactly what I would call "disposing of a trope."

According to the National Immigration Law Center (a source not as good as something from Fox that cites the Heritage Foundation, I know), Illegal immigrants are ineligible for federal welfare benefits, including SNAP (food stamps), non-emergency Medicaid, SSI, and TANF (what used to be called AFDC). States and cities may set the rules for their own programs, but that would appear to be a matter of local law.

"Just as a general matter of

"Just as a general matter of constitutional law, legal immigrants are generally eligible for the same rights as US citizens, except for voting and the right to hold certain sensitive government jobs."

RB, immigrants, legal and illegal are guaranteed due process of law by the Constitution, and that is where the similarities end:

1. DACA people are not here legally. As I've proven several times, they are merely the recipients of delayed deportation.

2. The issue was "they pay for their own education", not due process.

The second link was in response to the false statement that all DACA (illegal) immigrants pay their own room and board ie: "DACA protected illegals do not collect welfare". It:

1. Included the uncontested fact that California is providing welfare to illegals, DACA and otherwise.

2. Was the most convienent link to dispose of a trope. It is a waste of time to provide multiple links that will be disregarded out of hand anyway. Many leftist led states are providing welfare to illegal immigrants...look it up.

3. On another thread, I provided a link to a CBS story saying the same thing. Attack the facts, not the source.

"States and cities may set the rules for their own programs, but that would appear to be a matter of local law."

Does welfare by any other name not provide free room and board? Do you think federal state aid does not get used? Money is fungable, do you know what fungable means?