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Chicago DACA Recipients, Advocates Celebrate Supreme Court Ruling — And Keep Working To Help Immigrants

Representatives from immigrant rights organizations in Chicago were relieved by the decision and will continue their education and advocacy work.

An immigration rally in Chicago.
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DOWNTOWN — Chicago’s DACA recipients and advocates are celebrating a victory over President Donald Trump — but are also keeping up work on advocating for immigrants.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning the Trump administration cannot immediately end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy from former President Barack Obama that granted amnesty to roughly 700,000 people.

The program protects people from being deported if they are undocumented but came to the United States as young children. For people to be eligible for the program, they must meet certain requirements, like not having been convicted of a felony.

The ruling “reaffirmed the future” for many DACA recipients, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. Lightfoot said she remains committed to supporting immigrant communities and working to ensure their “rightful place” in the United States.

“Here in Chicago, we will always champion the contributions our immigrant and refugee communities have made throughout the life of our city — DACA or otherwise — and continue to make every single day,” she said.

Lightfoot became emotional during a morning press conference when she learned about the ruling, her voice catching as she said Chicago’s officials had been fearful of and preparing for an opposite ruling.

Eréndira Rendón, vice president of Immigrant Defense and Advocacy at the Resurrection Project, said she was in “shock” when she read the decision Thursday morning. Rendon, a DACA recipient, said the decision means she can continue to work to support herself and her family. Now, she won’t have to worry about losing her protective status and work authorization in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives from immigrant rights organizations in Chicago said they were relieved by the decision and are preparing to continue to educate and advocate.

Rendon said the Resurrection Project will continue to work to help DACA recipients renew their status and tackle other challenges they face during the pandemic.

“We’ve helped over 70 people renew their DACA, and so [the ruling] means we can continue to do that, give information around what you need to be able to review and assist our clients to do that,” Rendon said. “And personally it means that I get to focus on all the other issues that the immigrant community is facing during the pandemic and not have to worry about what this means for DACA recipients currently in the immediate future.”

Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said he was “incredibly pleased” by the decision.

“This is a great victory for not just the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are directly covered by DACA, but also all of their families, their entire communities and for this country,” Tsao said. “It’s a strong recognition that immigrants should be welcome in the United States and that this country relies heavily on immigrants and particularly on immigrants with DACA.”

Tsao said his organization will continue to work for a permanent solution that will give lawful status to more immigrants in the United States.

Katya Nuques, the executive director of Enlace Chicago, said the ruling was a “relief” and “very emotional” for DACA recipients and her staff.

“They were working with a lot of anxiety and fear, so this alleviates those feelings for now,” she said. “We know nothing is permanent, but it gives us some time to regroup and plan.”

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