DACA recipients from across TN depart to Washington, D.C. on November 11, 2019.

WASHINGTON, DC — On November 12th, the United States Supreme Court began to hear the oral arguments that will determine the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Here’s what’s at stake: the justices will decide whether to uphold the

Tennessee DACA recipients outside the Supreme Court

incredibly successful program that has benefited more than 700,000 immigrant young people across the county — or put them at risk of deportation. 

Twelve DACA recipients from across Tennessee, joined thousands of immigrant youth and allies on the steps of the Supreme Court.  Dulce Castro, a TIRRC member and DACA recipient from Nashville, was one of the few DACA recipients inside the court. As justices walked into the court, during the hearing, and as they walked out, they saw the faces of those who will be most deeply impacted by their decision.  

The Supreme Court’s decision in 2020 will define our nation. If the Supreme Court Justices let the Trump Administration end DACA, they will be putting the lives of millions in

TIRRC Member, Dulce Castro, waits to enter the US Supreme Court

immediate danger. Without protection, DACA recipients could lose their homes and their livelihoods. If DACA ends, they will be added to the list of those in constant danger of being targeted by Trump’s deportation force to be deported and separated from their families, including their 256,000 U.S. citizen children.

The following is a quote from Dulce Castro, TIRRC member and DACA recipient from Nashville who was inside the Supreme Court during the oral arguments: 

“DACA didn’t just provide me with protection from deportation and a work permit, fighting for it was the beginning of my confidence as an activist and advocate for my community.  It inspired me to not only learn about my situation, but also about the challenges and struggles other immigrant communities face. 

“The Trump administration ended DACA, and they created this crisis. They are willing to hold our futures hostage to advance an extreme and cruel anti-immigrant agenda, but we won’t let them. This isn’t just a fight for DACA but for the whole undocumented community. Regardless of the court’s decision, we won’t give up fighting for our futures, our families, and our communities. Being in DC with thousands of other DACA recipients from across the country is a reminder that I’m not in this alone, we are powerful and we are here to stay.”

The following in a quote from Kristal Sanchez. Kristal and her sister, Yuritza (below), are both DACA recipients from Memphis. Kristal is 19 years old and a freshman at the University of Memphis studying psychology neuroscience. 

“When I received DACA, it was transformative. With DACA, I was able to work and have a stable job that pays well.  I’ve been able to go to college and get a scholarship to help pay for tuition. With DACA threatened, I feel as if my dreams are moving beyond my reach. But it’s not just about me, I came to DC today to stand up for my future but also for my sister.  I’m here representing my community and all DACA recipients from Memphis. It’s powerful to be here with thousands of DACA recipients, and I hope the Supreme Court justices see what’s at stake. I hope the justices make the right decision, and that they preserve DACA because this is our home.”

The following is a quote from Yuritza Sanchez. Yuritza is 20 years old and will be attending Southwest Community College in Memphis in January 2020. She hopes to become a paramedic.

“We came to the United States when I was 3 years old. Having DACA has meant the world to me because I can accomplish my dreams, have a good job with benefits, and finally get my driver license, which was big for my family. As the first person who could drive without fear of deportation, it’s made our whole family a little bit safer. 

We’re in DC today to join the fight to preserve DACA. But while DACA will allow us to continue to be safe and to continue work, we also want a more permanent solution for our futures. I hope Congress and the Supreme Court see all of us here and that they understand that this is about our lives. We need a permanent solution – without compromising our families or our communities.” 

Background: DACA, created in 2012, is a program that provides temporary protection from deportation to undocumented immigrant youth who meet certain requirements. Over the past seven years, more than 700,000 immigrant youth — including nearly 8,000 in Tennessee — have been able to work, attend school, better support their families and more fully contribute to the community because of DACA. 

An overwhelming 75 percent of Tennessee voters believe DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for citizenship, according to a 2018 MTSU poll. 

In 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order terminating the DACA program. DACA recipients sued to preserve their protections and lower courts ruled to allow renewals for existing DACA recipients to continue, but new applicants were barred from applying. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the beginning oral arguments that will decide the fate of the program and the future of DACA recipients in this country.