Dreamers across Nashville received some respite today from the current Administration’s harsh rhetoric on immigration with the decision to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The move provides temporary relief to hundreds of young Nashvillians who worry about their status in this country while balancing school and work to support themselves and their families.
“I can still hope and shoot for the stars,” said Berenice Oliva, a 19 year old DACA recipient and social work major at Trevecca Nazarene University.
Started in June 2012, DACA allows certain people who came to the United States as children to qualify for deferred action from deportation proceedings and remain in the country. With DACA, many are able to come out of the shadows to live, work and study. Young people with DACA receive Social Security numbers in order to obtain employment, and, in some states – including Tennessee – can get a driver license.
“I can now focus on school instead of worrying about whether I will be able to renew my driver license when it expires next year,”Oliva added, pointing to the privileges that come with DACA status. As the only one in her family who can obtain a license, her family relies on her for transportation to and from work.
Oliva, a graduate from Glencliff High School, successfully completed Conexión Américas’ Escalera program, which promotes economic mobility for immigrant and refugee youth by increasing educational attainment, career planning and access to information about professional careers. She has just completed her freshman year at Trevecca Nazarene University. Without DACA, Oliva’s studies and professional development would become almost impossible.
The news today relieves many, however, others still face an uncertain future. While DACA remains untouched, the Administration rolled back another similar program, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). DAPA would have provided protection to undocumented parents of US born children. Both were meant to be temporary solutions to fix a broken immigration system.
“Continuing DACA is a step in the right direction, but our leaders in Congress must also work to find permanent solutions and keep our families together,” said Renata Soto, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Conexión Américas.