NIU community reflects on DACA restoration

Ahyen Labanan, News Editor

DeKALB — Many around the country celebrated the Supreme Court’s June 18 ruling to block the Trump administration’s 2017 attempt to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. 

Applications for the program were stopped in 2017, and only those with DACA could renew.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should now accept initial and renewal applications, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a nonprofit organization informing communities about immigration policy. 

“I didn’t think the program was gonna stay in place,” Dulce, a DACA recipient, said. 

Sandy López, coordinator for undocumented student support at NIU, recalled feeling “overjoyed,” when she heard of DACA’s restoration. 

DACA, an immigration policy created in 2012 under the Obama administration, grants eligible recipients who came to the United States as children with two-year protection from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. 

DACA protects recipients from being exploited at work, López said. 

“Doesn’t every human being deserve to live a life without being in fear of being deported or exploited?” López said.

López said during the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented students with DACA were working and providing for their families who were not protected. 

Dulce applied for DACA at 15 years old and was able to get a job at age 16. If it wasn’t for DACA, Dulce said, she wouldn’t have been able to work in high school, allowing her to save for college. 

“It meant a lot,” Dulce said. 

The future of the program is still unknown, however, and we have to get prepared for what happens next, López said. 

If DACA were to be taken away, it would impact people’s mental health, López said. People would feel anxious and uncertain about work, López said. 

Undocumented students represent 14 countries at NIU; they add so much richness and knowledge to the student body, López said. 

“They’re resilient,” López said. 

López said she recommends students with DACA renew if their DACA is set to expire within a year. She also said she recommends students who’ve never had DACA and qualify now or students who don’t qualify for DACA speak with an immigration lawyer to discuss their options. 

Visit the NIU undocumented student resources website or contact López at slopez1@niu.edu for more information.