There has been such a whirlwind of activity lately on the future of an Obama era program known as DACA that it appears to get more complicated and uncertain each day. A lot of this is political posturing, mostly by that self proclaimed stable genius in the White House. For starters, young people who for whatever reason did not renew their DACA permit should run, not walk, and get it in the mail ASAP.
In a victory for Dreamers (young people protected under DACA), federal immigration authorities very quietly announced last week they have resumed accepting requests for renewals for DACA. Remember, this is the program that Barack Obama established through an executive order that gave temporary protection from deportation and work permits to young people brought to this country as children without proper documentation. President Trump in his very stable, genius way, announced in September he was ending DACA by March 5 unless Congress came up with an alternative.
Hold on there, genius, said a federal judge recently. U.S. District Judge William Alsup temporarily blocked Trump's plan until lawsuits filed by California and other states play out in court. This gives Dreamers who had received DACA in the past and still met the eligibility requirements a chance to renew their permit. But ... there's always a but.
"This may be very short lived," said Win Eaton, an immigration specialist attorney.
Indeed, last week Trump's Justice Department appealed Judge Alsup's ruling by skipping the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and going directly to the Supreme Court, asking it to overturn Alsup's ruling and let Trump decimate DACA. What is strange here, though, is that Trump did not ask the Supreme Court to lift the court injunction, which, if granted, would mean no more DACA renewals, no more DACA. Eaton speculates this was done so that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Dreamers, Trump can then tell his conservative base that it wasn't his fault DACA continues and blame it on the Supremes.
This is being played out as the debate/fight/political shenanigans over immigration rolls on. And it's a shame young people's lives are being used as political pawns to score cheap political points. In fact, public support for Dreamers is overwhelming, as evidenced by the latest CBS News poll of Jan. 14, which found that more than two-thirds of Americans — 70 percent — favor DACA.
Another poll, this one by that liberal bastion known as Fox "News," found that a whopping 83 percent of voters favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The poll was done in September.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, who once proposed declaring Kern County to be a "non sanctuary county" is among those who support a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. "As long as each case is determined individually and a person has no criminal history," said the sheriff, who is running for re-election in June.
DACA's uncertain future worries people such as Ivan Gonzalez. The 22-year-old DACA recipient was a star athlete during his days at Ridgeview High School in 2013 and was California's 800 meter state champion in track and field. He used that skill to earn a full scholarship to UC Berkeley, where he majored in social welfare.
And he's back in Bakersfield where he works for the Youth 2 Leaders Education Foundation, a non-profit group that helps high school students further their education. He's puzzled why politicians haven't put their differences aside and passed legislation to bring Dreamers out of the shadows and on a pathway to citizenship.
"It's quiet frustrating," said Gonzalez. Nothing but his future hangs in the balance for him and hundreds of thousands of others.
Where are our Kern County representatives? Where is Kevin McCarthy? The other local congressman, David Valadao, has been more vocal on the issue. Last week he and a group of other congressmen introduced a bill that provides a legal path forward for Dreamers. But as they say, the devil is in the details, as it is also tied to stricter security measures at the border.
It makes sense for Valadao to support DACA given that his district is 75 percent Latino and this is an election year.
"I hope they give us a path to citizenship," said Ivan Gonzalez. "We are not criminals."