Valley Dreamers receive reassurance from LACCD

The Trump administration terminates the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and sends Dreamers back to the shadows.

By, Luis Romero and Karina Gutierrez, Staff Writers 

The Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District issued a statement of solidarity standing with the Dreamers affected by the Trump administration’s revocation of DACA earlier this month.

LACCD is home to about 11,000 undocumented students on nine campuses throughout Los Angeles County. Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez sent an email in support and to ease the fears among immigrant students.

“Stay enrolled in school and, if working, maintain your employment,” the email read. “Do nothing to jeopardize your current status.”

The chancellor’s statement, however, did not completely allay Valley students’ concerns about what this could mean for them.

“It gave me the opportunity to get an education (DACA) something that my parents didn’t get a chance to have back at home,” said Valley student Valerie Ramirez, “With this decision that was made it’s as if my limbs were cut off.”

Rodriguez and Board President Sydney Kamlager-Dove also sent a letter to congressional leaders, imploring them to pass the  DREAM Act, or give Dreamers a more permanent solution.

The DACA program protected many undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and allowed them to receive a renewable two-year period of deferment from deportation as well as eligibility for a work permit. Approximately 800,000 such young people (referred to as “Dreamers” after the DREAM Act) were enrolled in the program as of 2017, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Jose Contreras, a Law student at the University of Pepperdine, said, “I feel like my dreams and hopes to be someone in this country has faded away.” He went on to say, “[the] Obama administration gave me the opportunity to work and study and now Donald Trump is taking that away.”

After hearing the news, students, non-profit organizations, and politicians came together in different cities across the country to protest and ask congress for a solution. In a rally that took place in Los Angeles.

The result of this decision has put pressure on those who have yet to renew their permits, which must be received before the Oct. 5, 2017 deadline—along with a hefty renewal fee of $495. These applications are only for “current beneficiaries” with benefits expiring between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, according to the department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“They help our economy grow,” said Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D) of Illinois, “and are people that we need.”

The economic effects of this policy change are also a concern.  According to CNBC, the economic impact would be felt unevenly across the country; California, with an estimated 188,000 DACA workers, could suffer a GDP loss of $11.3 billion a year, and Texas would lose $6.1 billion in GDP, while North Carolina would lose $1.9 billion a year.

Dreamers will lose their protections on March 6, 2018 unless Congress comes up with a solution before then. The Trump Administration announced that they will continue to renew two-year work permits as they expire but will stop accepting new applications to the program. Chuck Schumer (D), Senate majority leader and Nancy Pelosi (D), House of Representatives Minority Leader,  have been in talks with Trump but the results have been confusing. Trump himself indicated they are closer to a deal, while Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R), contradicted Trump saying that there “is no agreement.”

Contrary to the mixed messages coming out of congress and the White House, many remain optimistic.

Valley College sent its own email to its students on the heels of the chancellor’s email. It informed students look for the Dreamers Butterfly logo to start appearing in offices across the campus.

“We understand that this decision brings uncertainty and is unsettling to our dreamer students,” the email from Valley College read. “We want you to know we stand with you, and we have your back.”

Former Valley College student and UCLA graduate Nancie Rosales said she stands with her Valley family.

“DACA came at the mercy of President Barack Obama,” Rosales said. “It was something that was heavily protested and fought for…I’ve been undocumented, I have figured it out, and I’m not afraid.”

Cesar Martinez Jairo Alvarado contributed to this story. 

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