Sessions’ “wind down” leaves Dreamers questioning the future

MCTC students show up and show out in support of DACA. Photo by Jordan Jones

With ICE (Immigrant and Customs Enforcement) activity up by one-third and the recent rescission of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), immigrants in America and on MCTC’s campus are worried.

On Monday, an event was held in the Helland Center in support of DACA students that included a rally and counsel for resources to help students find answers.

DACA is a program that was put in place by the Obama Administration that allows undocumented immigrants between the ages of fifteen and thirty-one “who came to the United States as children [before their fifteenth birthday] and meet several guidelines [to] request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Other conditions that allow a person to be considered for DACA include a clean criminal record, graduation or current enrollment in high school, obtainment of a GED, honorable discharge from military and continuous residence of the United States since 2007, among others. Currently, about 800,000 people are enrolled in the program.

On Tuesday, Sept 5, the Justice Department and Trump Administration announced that they will be ending DACA with “an orderly transition and wind-down… that provides minimum disruption,” as phrased by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

With this rescission of DACA, 154,000 Dreamers (as DACA recipients are called) would have until Oct 5 to be approved for renewal, approved by October 5 – not applied for by October 5. This is crucial!” class=”inline-comment collapsed”>“which is likely to cause a major logjam as the U.S. processes the applications,” according to NBC news.

MCTC is an open-enrollment institution, as indicated by an email sent to students by the school. This means that our college accepts everybody regardless of many factors, including immigrant status. Estefania Navarro, advisor for the Star Scholars program and DACA recipient, was one of multiple people that signed this email and was a part of organizing Monday’s event.

“Once DACA students lose their work permit, or it expires, their ability to work will no longer be there. But that doesn’t mean they will be expelled from college, and that will never be the case.” She said that while this may be the case, the ability to afford books, tuition, and other necessary experiences will be significantly hindered. At a school that has around 200 (there are 6,300 DACA students throughout Minnesota) undocumented immigrant students, per Navarro, that means that enrollment will drop.

The implications of this removal of DACA is that nearly a million people who were moved to America illegally by their parents will live in fear of being displaced from the place they consider home.

These are students in our classes as well as men and women employed by our school. These are people who pay into social security and pay taxes but do not see the same benefits as a taxpaying citizen. DACA recipients are not eligible for federal aid, including food stamps, federal student loans, Medicaid (except emergency services) or SSI, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
When asked about her reaction to hearing the news of DACA being rescinded, Navarro said “I’ve prepared myself for this since November of last year. I knew that it was going to happen.”

VJ, MCTC Alumni, leads the group with a few inspiring, heartfelt words. Photo by Jordan Jones

She said that she has worked on different paths and feels that she needs to take it day-by-day. “There are currently at least 3 pieces of legislation in Congress that would work something with DACA, so who knows, something might pass before March of next year.”

She talked about going through the phases of grief, denial, depression and anger. “Some days I might be okay, and other days is like ‘oh wait, here we are again put in this position by white supremacy and anti-immigrant agendas.’”

As a resident of South Minneapolis since 2005 before being a recipient of DACA, Navarro talked about being undocumented as a senior in high school and the difficulties of figuring out a path between moving back to Mexico to seek higher education there or working in America for low wages like her mother.

One night, as a senior in high school, shelearned about the Minnesota DREAM act which she would have been eligible for but had been struck down by five votes. She discussed the pain and resolution of this discovery.

“So this one night I just, like, looked through the Minnesota Dream Act, the one that had failed in 2010. And I just started crying cause it’s like, we were so close. So close. 5 votes away from passing it. It was just like ‘Wow, I meet all these requirements and it would’ve been perfect’ and just crying myself to sleep that night.”

“Then the next morning I go to work, and so I heard about the announcement [of DACA] through NPR about President Obama and so after that I immediately enrolled at MCTC and started at classes that next fall.”

At a school that considers inclusiveness to be a pivotal value, students won’t be expelled because of their citizenship status. But with a federal administration that has a focus on immigration and citizenship, that sense of inclusiveness is dwindling

While the school may consider inclusiveness to be a pivotal value, the federal government continues on its path of immigration reform. President Trump has promised a wall and is answering to a voter base that expects him to crack down on undocumented immigrants in this country. Though no undocumented student will be expelled, there’s less and less certainty that those students won’t be deported before they can reach graduation.

Resources on campus for undocumented students:

  • The MCTC Foundation offers full scholarships to undocumented students. Their offices are located in the lower level of the Management Education Center at 1312 Harmon Place.
  • The Star Program (https://www.minneapolis.edu/Admissions/Star-Scholars)
  • Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid staff will host an educational session for those individuals who already have DACA, and are eligible to renew in T.2300 on Wednesday, Sept 20 from 11-12pm and 12-1pm.
  • Interested applicants should call MMLA at 612-746-3705 or email probono@mylegalaid.org to register for an appointment with a volunteer attorney.
  • Immigration Law of MN will have a DACA hotline Thursday 2:30-4:30 at 651-287-3715
  • The Student Health Clinic in H.3400 offers mostly free resources to all

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