Today was the day that the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was set to expire by the Trump administration. That’s the program that protects young, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The decision was put on hold last week after the Supreme Court chose not to review legal arguments about DACA. Again, it leaves the fate of so-called Dreamers in limbo, including several thousand people here in Utah.
That includes Bernardo Castro, a senior at Brigham Young University and DACA recipient, who spoke with KUER's Erik Neumann about the looming deadline. He began by recounting why his mother moved his family to Utah.
Castro: In Mexico, my mom was one of just a handful of LDS students where she grew up and so she wanted us to grow up with people that had those same beliefs.
Neumann: What does this new court decision mean for you?
Castro: Yeah, so it means for the possibility of continuing to renew DACA beyond the March 5 deadline that the administration had announced. It means you’re not as worried anymore. It’s still not resolved and so you’re still in limbo, but at least you’re able to renew if you have that opportunity to continue to have that relief from deportation as well as continue working and pursuing your professional aspirations.
Neumann: This must be a happy moment for you at this point and people that you know in your community.
Castro: Yeah, so it was definitely well-received news. But when it comes to get something passed, it also is our biggest disadvantage at the moment as well because now the pressure is off with a deadline. I was actually just talking about that with my professor this morning. We have this big project coming up next week and it kind of snuck up on us because nobody realized when the deadline was. And so, when you have a deadline set on anything, that creates more pressure to get it done by a certain day, instead of just throwing it out there in the future and procrastinating.
Neumann: It must be a rollercoaster all the time but is this rollercoaster that you’ve been experiencing since the last September when the “wind down” of DACA was announced, has this rollercoaster been any different from any of the other years that you’ve had this status?
Castro: Yeah, absolutely. So when we had President Obama still in office, it was almost certain that DACA was going to be there. It was something that you could count on. And this time was a little bit different. Because of all the talks that were going on, if anything were to happen with immigration in Congress, the Dreamers – DACA recipients – would probably be the ones that would be benefited the most out of all the immigrants in the United States. But the other thing is that we don’t want that to come at the expense of the deporting 11 million people.
Neumann: Family members?
Castro: Exactly, right. So, you’re basically turning Dreamers against their own families. That was also another scary moment: having to decide whether you take advantage of that, if that were to happen, and then at the same time, stab your parents in the back or stab your family members in the back.
Neumann: Is that kind of how it feels? To be in that position and then have family members who are not eligible?
Castro: Yes. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s ‘do I watch out for myself or do I try to include the community as a whole?'
Neumann: What are people thinking about right now, since it’s kind of just pushing the deadline down the road?
Castro: At least for me anyways, I’m thinking about when [is] the earliest time that I can apply for DACA again, because you never know. It’s uncertain what could happen in the future. Right now what we had is a victory in the courts, by the Supreme Court deciding not to take up that case. But it’s just temporary. It’s just for another year maybe at maximum until somebody else rules on it.