On Wednesday, Nov. 8, the Saddleback College Pre-Law Society hosted an informational event in the Student Quad regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The DACA Day event featured several guest speakers including two immigration attorneys and Saddleback President Gregory Anderson. The Saddleback College Culinary Arts Department provided food for guests and students.
“Our main goal for this event was to educate and spread awareness,” said Pre-Law Society President Shirin Sami. “Hopefully create some sort of activism and be unbiased, but have the students create their own opinion of the topic.”
The DACA program, announced by President Obama on June 15, 2012, granted temporary protected immigration status to almost 800,000 American residents who entered the country illegally as children. President Trump recently made the announcement to revoke the DACA program.
Pre-Law Society vice president Arianna Aveni stressed that time is of the utmost importance regarding people who may be affected by the recent DACA decision.
“On March 6, people will start losing their work permits and they will start getting laid off because their status will be expired,” she said. “It’s right now that it’s time for us to mobilize and move.”
A number of colleges and universities have filed lawsuits against the Trump administration to oppose the cancellation of DACA. The California Attorney General filed a motion on Nov. 1 as part of a pending lawsuit to block the implementation of the DACA recision. The hearing is scheduled for Dec. 20.
“Our college has a responsibility to serve students regardless of the papers they bring,” said Saddleback College President Gregory Anderson. “It’s not our business where they’re coming from, it’s our business to help them achieve their academic success.”
Immigration attorney Parvin Wiliani spoke to the audience about her own experience coming to America and being able to help others along their pathway toward U.S. citizenship.
“I’m an immigrant and proud of it,” Wiliani said. “I came here with a suitcase.”
Besides just cancelling the DACA program, Trump has spent the majority of his time in office, when he isn’t playing golf, attempting to cancel most of the key policies that were put in place under President Obama, such as the climate change rule for power plants, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the travel and trade deal with Cuba, and “Obamacare,” of which Trump said is a “total disaster” that “implodes by itself” in 2017. Trump has also said that he will “let Obamacare fail.”
More than 600,000 people signed up for Obamacare plans for 2018 during the first week of open enrollment for health insurance this year, up from 415,000 during the same period last year.
The final deadline for DACA recipients to renew their applications was on Oct. 5, but there are still other avenues available for financial assistance for those who may have missed that date.
“A lot of students think, ‘Well I don’t think I’m qualified,’ or what their legal status is, and they get scared, and they don’t ask, and they think it’s just a dead end, and it’s not,” said Saddleback College Financial Aid Ambassador Stephanie Garcia. “We have a whole bunch of stuff that’s available to them.”
Representatives from the Financial Aid Department were on hand during the afternoon to provide students with information regarding all of their options for assistance outside of DACA, including the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act and the AB 540 program, which allows eligible undocumented, legal permanent residents and U.S. students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
The DREAM Act of 2017 is a bipartisan bill, introduced to Congress by Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that includes a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, undocumented residents and other people with temporary protected status who graduate from U.S. high schools, attend college, enlist in the workforce or enlist in the military.
“You don’t necessarily have to have DACA to apply for the DREAM Act — that’s what we’re trying to get across here,” said Saddleback College Financial Aid Specialist Katelynn Cope. “It’s safe to apply for the DREAM Act, because that information isn’t shared with any other governmental agencies besides the Department of Education.”
Immigration attorney Atoosa Vakili spoke about the importance of the need for immigrants and those who support them to take matters into their own hands and be proactive with government representatives.
“One thing that I’m here to really stress with you all is that you need to be advocates on your own behalf,” Vakili said. “The Senate Democrats want to include DACA legislation into the end-of-the-year spending bill that has to be dealt with by Congress by the end of the year. So it’s very important right now, between November through December, that we show a lot of advocacy, we approach our representatives, expressing support for DACA.”
Visit https://dreamers.fwd.us/ to learn more about what you can do to support DACA and Dreamers, or go to https://dreamers.fwd.us/petition to sign a petition demanding that Congress pass the bipartisan DREAM Act.