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Small Towns

By Vicky Espinoza and Gladys Godinez, former staff members 

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, home is in Nebraska to more than 2,980 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The Center for Rural Affairs believes in genuine opportunity for all to earn a living, raise a family, and prosper in a rural place. This opportunity would not be possible for our hard working neighbors, students, teachers, doctors, and individuals who are DACA recipients if the program were to end. 

The Center also believes in fairness that allows all who contribute to the nation’s prosperity to share in it. DACA recipients continue to have wide-ranging positive impacts in our community’s economic growth as well as reviving rural communities that depend on their diverse populations to survive.

What is DACA? Plus, some crucial dates.

President Obama signed an executive order that established DACA on June 15, 2012. Individuals could apply for DACA if they had come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday; were under the age of 31; had continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007; and were in school, graduated or had obtained a certification of completion from high school, obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or were an honorary discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces. 

Applicants at the time of application or renewal cannot have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

On Sept. 15, 2017, acting Secretary of Homeland Security issued a memorandum to rescind the DACA program and establish a plan for phasing out DACA.

On April 24, 2018, a federal judge ruled the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must resume accepting new DACA applications.

On May 1, 2018, another lawsuit was filed against DACA, but renewals continue to be accepted while the case works through the legal system.

On June 28, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to review the cases that challenge the termination of the program.

On Nov. 12, 2019, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments and a decision will be made during the following months. The Supreme Court will have to make a decision by June 2020.

What does the Supreme Court have to do with DACA?

Federal courts have heard cases on DACA since it was rescinded in 2017 and now it is in the hands of the Supreme Court. The National Immigrant Law Center states what can be the results of this case and why it’s important for Nebraskans to stay up to date.

If the court concludes that the process by which the government decided to end DACA was legally sufficient, the Trump administration will determine how DACA is rolled back. Under this scenario, we’ll have to wait to see what the administration does:

  • Processing DACA renewal applications that are pending at the time the court issues its decision.
  • Either allowing work permits to expire on their stated expiration dates or attempting to “recall” work permits and DACA protections that have not yet expired.

If the court concludes that DACA itself is unlawful:

  • There will no longer be a possibility that new first-time DACA applications will be accepted.
  • The government will stop accepting DACA renewal applications.
  • It’s possible that work permits issued to DACA recipients will remain valid until their expiration dates, but whether they do will depend on the court’s reasoning and how the administration reacts to the court’s decision.

Why is this important to me?

As you can see, there are real consequences for the Supreme Court’s decision. DACA recipients have called the U.S. home for many years. The Center continues to support DACA recipients, and knows that DACA recipients are making our state vibrant.

How can I learn more about DACA in Nebraska?

We encourage you to learn more about DACA recipients and their stories by watching the Immigrant Legal Center’s “We Are Dreamers” Documentary.

This documentary will not only show you real life stories but it will also showcase the economic impact that DACA recipients make in our state and our country. This economic impact data is courtesy of the Center for American Progress research.

  • 91 percent are in the workforce and contributing to the economy of their community.
  • If DACA was suspended, the state would lose $150 million annually gross domestic product.
  • They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and nurses.
  • According to analysis, kicking 800,000 DACA recipients out the workforce would cause the U.S. to lose $460 billion over a 10-year period.