Sept. 5 deadline looms for DACA — a nightmare for Colorado Dreamers

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August 10, 2017, 10:02 am
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DACA recipient Alex Trujillo, 21, in Avon, Colo. David O. Williams photo.

DACA recipients, more commonly as “Dreamers”, have been heavily in the news of late — for all the wrong reasons.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was put in place by former President Barack Obama in 2012, and since then more than 750,000 undocumented U.S. residents who were brought here illegally at a very young age have applied for and received DACA protections from deportation and the right to study and work here legally as long as they stay out of trouble with the law.

I’ve interviewed three such DACA recipients recently, telling their stories to some degree in a recent article posted on Atlantic Media’s RouteFifty.com website. The program itself faces at Sept. 5 deadline imposed on President Donald Trump by 10 Republican state’s attorney generals and the Republican governor of Idaho.

Basically, they want the program rescinded, or they will challenge it in federal court, and Trump administration immigration hardliners such as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Chief of Staff (formerly Secretary of Homeland Security) John Kelly have raised questions about the constitutionality of DACA, which leads some to believe they may not defend the program in court.

That could end the program, even after the current administration renewed around 200,000 DACA applications, and send three-quarters of a million Dreamers back into the shadows at a time when ICE is cracking down.

And it would directly conflict with Trump’s reversal from the campaign trail — when he promised to rescind the program — and his more recent promise that he would “show great heart” in dealing with DACA.

Colorado politicians from both sides of the aisle have been rallying for Trump administration support for DACA while simultaneously seeking legislative solutions that would codify it in law, provide a path to citizenship and take the program out of the nebulous world of executive-order status. I wrote about that both in the RouteFifty.com article and last week in Westword.

Democrats rallied in Denver on Wednesday, led by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who issued this statement:

“For over 17,000 young aspiring Americans in Colorado, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program means the difference between openly living and thriving in the only country they have ever known as home, and hiding out in fear of deportation and forcible separation from their family and friends.  These young aspiring Americans deserve a permanent solution, and Congress must act to immediately address the hardship experienced by these dreamers. I want them to know that I am on their side, and will continue to advocate for the continuation of the DACA program, and for a permanent solution in Congress,” Polis said. “DACA recipients are Americans, and they belong here.”

Meanwhile, as I discuss in the RouteFifty.com story, and as I’ve been reporting since last winter, county and municipal governments are struggling with just how much they should cooperate with federal efforts to round up undocumented residents and deport them to Mexico and points south.

The city of Denver is weighing an ordinance aimed at preventing local police from enforcing federal immigration laws, and ski-country counties have either already passed or are considering resolutions along the same lines, trying to calm fears in the immigrant community that local police will help ICE round up and deport residents with no serious criminal history.

Here’s an excerpt from my recent RouteFifty.com story:

Looming Threat to ‘Dreamers,’ Immigration Crackdown Stokes Fears in Local Communities

AVON, Colo. — Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in Colorado and across the nation are facing a Sept. 5 deadline that could see them chased back into the shadows of illegal immigration at a time when cities and towns are grappling with stepped up Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions at county and municipal courthouses.

“It’s not just me. Obviously, there’s a huge population of Hispanics here in this county in the same process that I am,” said Alex Trujillo, 21, a resident of Eagle County, located on Colorado’s Western Slope. “We’re scared that if DACA were to be removed now that some of us are older, it’s going to affect us.”

Trujillo, a restaurant worker with a college degree, is referring to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program implemented by then-President Barack Obama by executive order in 2012 that provides deportation protection for more than 750,000 children of illegal immigrants brought to the United States at very young ages. There are more than 18,000 DACA recipients in Colorado.

Those recipients are often called “Dreamers,” a reference to the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal first introduced in 2001 that would allow the children of parents who brought them into the United States without authorization a pathway to conditional and permanent residency and protection from deportation.

But the DREAM Act is still a dream. For now, there is DACA.

“I feel like it would affect a lot of people, not just here but all over the U.S., because a lot of us who go to school, get our degree, pay taxes and have lived here a long time, we already feel a part of this country and feel secure already with DACA,” added Trujillo, who came to Colorado at age 5 from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

To read the whole story, click here.

 

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David O. Williams
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington) ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, SKI Magazine, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), Ski Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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