800,000 People Just Breathed a Sigh of Relief
On Thursday, June 18, in a groundbreaking decision, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is an answer to prayer for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Since 2012, DACA has provided roughly 800,000 of these young men and women (known as DREAMers) with the ability to work and study, free from the fear that they will be removed from the country. Many of these DREAMers serve in the military, care for the sick and are essential members of our churches and communities. This is the only country they know and remember … it is their home.
800,000 people just breathed a sigh of relief … for the moment. But this is not a permanent solution. “The Court still does not resolve the question of DACA’s rescission,” Justice Alito wrote in his dissent. “Instead, it tells the Department of Homeland Security to go back and try again.”
St. Nicholas DACA Story
St. Thomas has a twinning relationship with St. Nicholas Parish in Aurora … a predominantly Mexican community. Ramon Zepeda is a leader in the community and we know him well. His daughter Michelle Zepeda and her husband, David Blanca are DREAMers. Below is part of their story, with information from a Chicago Tribune article published Thursday, June 28 … prior to the Supreme Court decision.
Michelle and David have two children, ages 6 and 3. They recently bought a small ranch-style home in Aurora. Both Michelle and David have Master’s degrees and jobs they are grateful for. All thanks to DACA. Michelle is a project manager at a cancer research center.
Michelle recalls weeping when she learned that the DACA program would be eliminated on the day their daughter was starting kindergarten. Once again their future and the future of their two children, both US citizens, was at stake.
More than 42,000 people in Illinois were covered by the program when it was created. David believes that other DACA recipients, the immigrant community and other allies are ready to stand up to demand protection for all, not just those who benefited from DACA. “People will rally for what is right.”
Every time Michelle has to file to renew her DACA status, she has to face the reality of uncertainty. “We have spent so many years worrying about what is next, it is exhausting. It has been a roller coaster, but at least we have each other.”