The future of Dreamers

Education and Leadership Foundation’s Jorge Ceballos Madrigal lead discussion on the status of Dreamers at LCAC Forum tonight, April 3


LINDSAY – Determining the legal status of Dreamers has always been complicated, but trying to figure out the political stats of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is utterly chaotic.

A permanent solution would be easy. The DREAM Act, introduced in 2017, would have allowed people who were brought to the United States as children, to apply for status. That bill was rejected by the then-Republican Congress. Now, in 2019, House Democrats are introducing the Dream and Promise Act which would combine the Dream Act with a proposal to allow some immigrants with temporary humanitarian protections to apply for permanent legal status.

As it stands today, individuals who currently hold or have previously held DACA status can apply to renew it; however, new applications for DACA are not being accepted.

There are between 2,000 and 2,500 Dreamers in Tulare County, based on numbers from the Public Policy Institute of California. Nationwide, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports there were 689,800 active DACA recipients in the United States as of Sept. 4, 2017. So where does that leave Dreamers? That’s the topic of discussion at the next Lindsay Cultural Arts Council Forum on April 3 in Lindsay.

Leading the discussion on the status of DACA recipients will be Jorge Ceballos Madrigal, who has worked for the Education and Leadership Foundation (ELF) for two years as a translator, editor, and interpreter. He assists Jose Martinez, a Department of Justice Accredited Representative and Immigration Services Outreach Coordinator for ELF, in presentations to inform migrant communities throughout the valley about DACA, Citizenship, Know your Rights, Family Preparedness Plan, and Immigration Remedies.

Most recently he was part of FotoVoz, a project with the mission to bring awareness to the people about immigration, health, and pesticides. Ceballos holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and is currently a graduate student and a Spanish instructor in the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Department at California State University, Fresno. Mr. Ceballos is an avid writer and has published several literary works in journals such as EL Cid from The Citadel University in North Carolina, magazines like La Revista Literaria Austral, and newspapers such as La Voz de Aztlán from Fresno State.

Ceballos provided the LCAC with some historical perspective on the DACA discussion.

On June 15, 2012, President Barak Obama announced the DACA policy for children whose parents brought them to U.S. illegally. In order to be eligible for DACA, applicants had to be at least 15 years old and prove that they were under the age of 16 when they came to the U.S. They had to have been living in the country continuously since June 15, 2007. They had to be under age 31 and with no lawful status as of June 15, 2012. Applicants had to be in school or have graduated or completed high school or have been honorably discharged from the military. Those with convictions of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors were ineligible. Those who were approved didn’t gain lawful status, but they would not face any deportation proceedings for two years. The DACA status could be renewed, and enrollees could get work authorization.  President Obama instituted the program after Congress repeatedly failed to pass the so-called DREAM Act, which would have enabled those brought to the U.S. as children to eventually gain citizenship.

On Sept. 5, 2017, then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government was terminating the DACA, program. That same day, then–Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke issued a memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reject all initial DACA applications and associated applications for work authorization received after Sep. 5, 2017; to reject all renewal applications after Oct. 5, 2017, from current DACA recipients whose status expired between Sep. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018; and to reject all other renewal applications from DACA recipients.

In the days and months following, multiple lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s actions to terminate DACA were filed across the country.

On Jan. 9, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California issued an injunction allowing current and past DACA recipients to renew and submit renewal forms. The federal government then took the unusual step of seeking to skip review in the Ninth Circuit and instead appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Feb. 26, 2018, the Supreme Court declined to hear the government’s direct appeal from the district court and sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where the issue will be heard again.

The government must continue to accept DACA renewal applications in accordance with the preliminary injunction, meaning they are still taking applications for a program that has been shelved.

The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3 at the Lindsay Gallery and Museum, 165 N. Gale Hill Ave. in Lindsay. Light refreshments will be served. For questions, contact Chuck Sheldon at 559-359-5865, Ginny Wilson at 559-334-7459, or Don Roark at 559-804-5834.

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