‘A Wave of Happiness': Immigration Advocates in South Florida React to Court Ruling on DACA

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There was cause for celebration today at the office of the Florida Immigrant Coalition. 

The advocacy group has served as resource for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as Dreamers. Today’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, which saves DACA for the time being, put smiles on a lot of faces. 

“It really just gave me so much hope, I feel so grateful that it was not rescinded again, it was not terminated,” said Nery Lopez, a DACA recipient who lives in South Florida.

Another local Dreamer, Ana Guevara, said that "it felt surreal, but there was a wave of happiness at the same time because for the last two years I had been living in limbo."

Both of the young women met with NBC 6 at the Coalition’s office. Their histories are similar to those of the estimated 800,000 Dreamers in the United States.

Lopez immigrated from Mexico when she was four years old. She grew up in Florida and graduated from FIU. 

“I’m an American just as you, I pay taxes here,” Lopez said. 

Guevara came to America at age nine and grew up in Palm Beach County. President Obama create DACA in 2012 when she was a senior in high school.

“For the first time, I felt unafraid, I felt like I had a voice as a human being,” Guevara said. 

The Trump Administration rescinded DACA in 2017. That left the futures of the Dreamers in doubt.

They had come out of the shadows to register for DACA, assured by the United States Government that they would not be deported, but those assurances suddenly evaporated when the program was canceled.

The Dreamers faced the real possibility of being sent to live in countries that are essentially foreign to them. That’s why today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is so significant.

“Unfortunately our communities have been living under constant harassment, under constant fear, so this court’s decision is a relief," said Melissa Tavares of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

"It’s saying to the dreamers, the courts side with you and the majority of Americans side with you as well, and we’re going to find a permanent solution in the long run."

The solution, Tavares says, is comprehensive immigration reform which would give the Dreamers a path to citizenship. The Supreme Court ruling doesn’t endorse DACA; it just says the Trump Administration did not provide adequate justification to rescind the program. 

“I am both elated and relieved over this Supreme Court decision,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and a fierce advocate of the Dreamers. 

Carvalho was himself an undocumented, immigrant college student when he came to the U.S. Now the school district he runs has tens of thousands of students in that same situation, and many alumni who are in the DACA program.

He pointed out that more than 90% of Dreamers are either employed or are college students, and many have served in the military. 

“Many of these individuals are currently working as essential workers during this health crisis,” Carvalho said. “They are us, they’re part of our communities.”

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