If Daniela Reyes dwelled too long on the status of her deferred action request for children’s arrivals, it could consume her.
Tacoma’s mother, 24, had all of her documents ready in 2017. But the program stopped accepting applications before she could apply. When it reopened, Reyes had his papers ready again.
Although she reviewed her candidacy for what seemed “a hundred times,” she said he bounced back due to a missing signature. She submitted it yet again – only to be left to wait again after a federal judge questioned the legality of the Obama-era program this summer.
Reyes is among tens of thousands of DACA candidates caught in a backlog of cases after U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen banned the federal government from approving new applications.
The decision highlighted the transitional nature of the protections offered by the DACA and reinforced calls for comprehensive immigration reform that includes immigrants beyond those eligible for the program.
“It’s just this devastating uncertainty. Even for people who have DACA, it was this roller coaster of emotion to fight for that status in the first place, ”said Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
He estimated that 2,000 of the 55,000 first-time DACA applicants in the country, from March, reside in the state of Washington.
“Whenever there is news like this your heart sinks,” Reyes said, calling it an endless battle to try to become a permanent resident.
Her family left Monterrey, Mexico, when she was 2 years old. When Reyes got married in 2016, she tried to apply for citizenship through her husband, a U.S. citizen, but was told DACA was a safer bet.
With two young children and having been raised by a single mother for most of her youth, Reyes said she has learned to stand up for herself and stay positive – even when it seems the odds are stacked against her.
“My memories, my whole life is here,” Reyes said. “Sometimes I’m scared because I want to keep moving forward, but the doors keep closing on me.”
After graduating from high school, Reyes wanted to go to college. But she felt she couldn’t because she didn’t have a permanent residence. Six years later, she still hopes to someday work in the medical field and show her children that they can accomplish whatever they want.
She said she wanted opportunities that many Americans can take for granted, like going to college or working in a stable.–To–5 job. “We are as American as anyone.”
In a state of “limbo”
While the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services still accept early DACA applications, approvals cannot be granted until the Supreme Court decides the fate of the program.. And renewal applications filed before the decision may be further delayed.
“Now we are in this limbo where their request is unlikely to be denied, but neither will it be approved for who knows how long,” Barón said.
He said he hoped Biden the administration will ensure that there is not a long delay, and that working license extensions will be granted amid the arrears.
Arrears often make it seem like “your life is on hold or in purgatory,” especially if one finds oneself unable to work, visit relatives or go to school, Xiao said. Wang, CEO and co-founder of Boundless Immigration.
Wang helped create the Seattle-based startup to help offset difficulties navigating the legal system, costly fees, and other hurdles for immigrants seeking citizenship or residency.
“When my family came from China, we spent almost five months rent on our immigration lawyer because we didn’t know any better,” he said.
DACA a ‘dressing solution‘
Advocates point to DACA as a temporary solution and continue to call for a massive legalization program for the more than 11 million people living illegally in the country.
Linda Vargas, a DACA recipient and a student at Washington State University, said she didn’t fully consider the program’s fragility and shortcomings when she was younger.
Vargas’ family moved from Tepalcatepec, Mexico, when she was 4 years old.
“I think at the root of that is the fact that DACA is a dressing solution for the puncture wound that is America’s broken immigration system,” she said.
The ‘good’ immigrant versus the ‘bad’ immigrant fuels divisions within the immigrant community and beyond, Vargas said, with the feeling that only those who seek higher education or are DACA eligible deserve to be. in the country.
This causes people, she said, to think that they have to turn into an “acceptable” version of an immigrant.
“Our parents, our uncles, our aunts also deserve protection. They left everything behind and this country is what they know now, ”she said. “We won’t really feel protected until our entire community has had the opportunity to feel safe.”
Advocating for a clear path to citizenship
On August 11, Democrats in the US Senate passed a $ 3.5 trillion budget resolution that includes approximately $ 100 billion for a path to citizenship extending to DACA recipients, people with temporary protected status and farm workers and other essential workers in the United States without legal authorization.
House lawmakers passed the budget resolution Tuesday. Democrats can continue the budget reconciliation process, which allows Congress to pass legislation on one-party line voting to avoid obstruction.
“We have a chance to do this with reconciliation, and I will make all the points that need to be made. I think it’s quite obvious that immigration reform has a direct impact on our budget, ”Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., Said in a statement to the Seattle Times.
The immigration system has forced millions of people to “live in the shadows as Americans aside from name,” she said.
Gilda Blanco joined the Domestic Workers Alliance in Seattle in 2011 and began advocating for workers’ rights and immigration reform. Four years later, she joined the alliance full time, eventually become a representative on the executive committee of the international federation of domestic workers.
Earlier this year, she met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss immigration reform and a path to citizenship that extends to essential undocumented workers who lack protection when exploited in the country. job.
“I think of each of them when I defend and I want the world to know their faces too and that they deserve respect,” Blanco said.
Blanco hears daily from people who are victims of abuse and harassment at work who feel they have no recourse because of their legal status. This is something she knows all too well.
Blanco arrived in the United States in 1999 without legal permission a year before graduating from Rafael Landivar University in Guatemala and cleaning homes for work, leaving her vulnerable to exploitation and wage theft.
It took her 16 years to get her residency, and she spent her savings to get there.
“The whole time I didn’t see my mom, I only spoke by phone or FaceTime,” Blanco said. “She is now 82 years old. I missed so much.
Resources and legal aid for illegal immigrants to the United States and DACA recipients have proven to be vital, Vargas said. But perhaps just as important, she added, is the attention to mental health. The uncertainty of DACA and the future of immigrants is a difficult reality to live with, she said.
“We always fight to be seen,” Vargas said. “Nothing was given to us just because.