Inside the Wilshire Auditorium, immigration attorneys Karina Gutierrez and Solange Rousset spoke to a crowd of DACA recipients about what President Trump’s decision to end the temporary act would mean for them.
The Know Your Rights forum on Monday, Sept. 18 aimed to inform DACA recipients about their rights and how their shifting landscape would soon affect them in the next six months.
Trump assigned Congress a figurative six-month deadline to replace DACA with a new program, which Congress is not obligated to do. Previously in 2001, 2007 and 2011, Congress attempted to pass the DREAM Act, which would grant qualified applicants permanent residence. The act went through multiple phases, all which failed until President Obama created DACA as a temporary solution for a not so temporary issue.
Since Trump’s decision to end the executive order on Sept. 5, many DACA recipients have panicked in flux over whether their current work permits would mean safety from deportation or if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would come knocking on their doors.
“There’s a large population of DACA recipients who don’t qualify for renewal and they have a lot of pending questions about ‘what happens now? What happens if my permit expires? What do I do, what does this mean?’” said Gutierrez.
The official word from the presidential administration states that if a DACA candidate has not submitted an application for the program by Sept. 5, they will not be considered for DACA. However, if a DACA recipient’s work permit expires between Sept. 5 and March 5 2018, they are able to apply to renew their work permit. The deadline for renewal is Oct. 5.
Gutierrez and Rousset noted the multitude of dates and the confusion that could stem from the deadlines.
“It was really important to make sure people knew there were places to go, to get help, and to get scholarships, and, in a larger sense, get the general immigration consultation in case Congress doesn’t act,” said Rousset.
In order to assure their place in America for the time being, though, Gutierrez and Rousset stressed the importance of steering clear from criminal activity and keeping a low radar so ICE and the government have no reason to come knocking on their doors.
“We want [DACA recipients] to really be a part of the community and advocate for change,” Rousset said. “The more people that can contact Congress, the more that talk about the issue, the more likely that Congress will act.”
Among little known facts DACA recipients may not be aware of are, their various rights when confronted by law enforcement.
For instance, DACA recipients hold the right to privacy and the right to not answer their door when immigration comes literally knocking. They have a right to not answer any questions, to not sign anything, and to instead slip red cards under their door stating said rights.“If we were cautious during the Obama administration, we are ten times more so under this administration,” said Gutierrez.
The forum intended to inform DACA recipients about their rights in the face of uncertainty and intimidation, but the sole reason Gutierrez and Rousset wished to pass knowledge to them was because DACA recipients are humans too, not just statistical figures primed for deportation.
“There’s more to DACA, there’s more to their stories,” said Gutierrez. “We want DACA recipients to know that there is more out there than DACA and they can continue to thrive and contribute to our community if they seek the right resources.”