BY JULIA MURPHY | June 23, 2020
Last Thursday, June 18, the Supreme Court released the long-awaited decision about the validity of the Trump administration’s 2017 termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold DACA, with Chief Justice Roberts writing the opinion, on grounds that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered no clear justifications for the termination of the program which originated as an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012. As a result of this decision, the roughly 800,000 DACA recipients who had been legally living, studying, and working in the United States are temporarily free from fear of deportation again. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security must now resume processing initial DACA applications and advanced parole applications, and USCIS can continue to accept and process renewal applications. However, the Trump administration still has an opportunity to legitimately end DACA in the near future if Congress does not pass legislation protecting Dreamers.
During a press conference hosted by ISN with four DACA recipients who are current students or alumni of Jesuit institutions and with Fr. Michael Sheeran, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, viewers asked the DACA recipients about their reactions to the positive Supreme Court decision. All four expressed that they were preparing for a negative decision. Filza Ali, a member of the class of 2020 at Loyola University Chicago, shared her relief at the positive decision, especially given her desire to attend medical school in the U.S. She believes the decision “definitely deserves a moment of pause and celebration” and hopes that “moving forward we can also use this win to serve as fuel for continuing to demand justice for immigrant communities and other people on the margins.”
Miriam Uribe, 2017 graduate of the University of San Francisco, took a moment to give gratitude to the organizers and advocates who fought for DACA, saying that “the power is in the people. A hopeful future law student, Miriam looks forward to continuing the struggle for immigrant rights, “because everyone deserves dignity and everyone deserves to be happy and protected.”
Mizraim Ali, a member of the class of 2021 at Georgetown University, expressed his happiness about the unexpectedly positive decision, and shared that “in times of great tragedy, it’s important to celebrate these wins together as a family, as a community, and continue to hold each other tight and support each other.” He also noted the importance of continuing the struggle for the dignity of those who are marginalized, given that legal status or citizenship does not necessarily lead to the end of discrimination.
José Arnulfo Cabrera, director of education and advocacy for migration at ISN, a DACA recipient, and a 2018 graduate of Xavier University, mentioned that although he hadn’t yet fully processed the ramifications of the positive decision, he was relieved that for the first time in the past few years, he and other DACA recipients wouldn’t have to fear deportation for the time being. Cabrera said that this positive decision is “[recognition of] the hard work… of so many organizers and advocates that fought for DACA, that fought for protection from deportation for undocumented youth.” He also noted the importance of continuing to fight for immigration reform for those who aren’t eligible for DACA.
All four DACA recipients also asserted that the struggle for DACA-mented and undocumented people in the U.S. is linked to the fight for racial justice and to Black Lives Matter, and noted the importance of solidarity between marginalized groups.
Fr. Sheeran shared the support of the AJCU for the Supreme Court’s decision and implored Congress, especially the 10% of Congress that is Jesuit-educated, to continue this work and pass a clean Dream Act.
Several Jesuit institutions also released statements in support of the decision. The University of San Francisco’s Master in Migration Studies Program “applauds” the decision. Professor of Sociology Evelyn Rodriguez, in the statement, adds that “DACA recipients are integral to the fabric of our communities, and we must stand by them for the sake of our humanity.”
Fr. Fred Kammer, S.J., director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans, stated, “A key principle of Catholic Social Teaching is the primacy of the family, where children learn moral virtues, form their consciences, and find their place in the world. If DACA had been rescinded, it would have been unconscionable and immoral to deport undocumented parents away from their children in the midst of a pandemic.”
Brophy College Preparatory School in Phoenix stated that they were “heartened” to hear the decision, and that “consistent with [their] Jesuit, Catholic identity, [they] will continue to advocate for the passage of the Dream Act so that DACA enrollees can forge a path to citizenship and productive lives lived without fear.”
These individuals and institutions, as parts of the Jesuit network that stands for “a faith that does justice, join thousands of current and future DACA recipients both in celebrating the positive Supreme Court decision and in committing to continuing the struggle for a universal recognition that migrant rights are human rights.
Julia Murphy is a 2019 graduate of Saint Louis University, where she pursued majors in English and Spanish and minors in urban poverty studies and Latin American studies. Most recently, she spent eight months as a volunteer with Rostro de Cristo in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she worked in community organizing and youth development at Hogar de Cristo, a Jesuit social housing organization. She is passionate about working for justice, which stems from her upbringing as well as from her Jesuit education at SLU and with the Casa de la Mateada program in Córdoba, Argentina through Loyola Marymount University and the Universidad Católica de Córdoba, where she studied during the spring of 2017. She is from Cleveland, Ohio, where she spent the summer of 2018 as an intern with the Ignatian Solidarity Network.