Bob’s Blog: (Guest Blogger) Undocumented & Unafraid
Last Friday a judge in Texas ruled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) unlawful. With the stroke of a pen Judge Andrew S. Hanen jeopardized the lives of nearly 700,000 DACA-recipients who have lived here most of their lives and who call the United States home.
The decision coming out of Texas breaks my heart. I can’t say it enough. While I rejoice with a Fresno youth’s relief of getting his DACA application approved, I can’t help but think of the thousands of brothers and sisters who have yet to receive any update from USCIS. I am committed to doing more because we cannot fix our way out of our broken immigration system with band aid solutions that create cohorts of undocumented immigrants reflective of the chaotic system. Our families and communities deserve better.
Immigrant youth led the way for DACA. A successful campaign led by undocumented immigrants in 2012 resulted in the Obama administration announcing an executive order that allowed certain undocumented immigrants to qualify for basic privileges: deferred action from deportation, work authorization, and advance parole (if granted, opportunity to travel). Despite DACA being legal, immigrant youth have had to continuously defend it through two administrations, pushing each to recognize and validate the legal benefits granted to DACA recipients – and have prevailed.
While not a permanent solution to our broken immigration system, DACA was a major victory in the immigrant rights movement. But, since its announcement, DACA has faced several legal battles each time endangering the livelihoods of our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community.
The decision that came on Friday is heartbreaking. In short, United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) did not meet their end of the bargain. Since the current administration fully reinstituted DACA, more than 80,000 human beings (new DACA applicants) submitted applications. Instead of honoring the time, resources, and hope that applicants put towards these applications, these applications sat on USCIS desks collecting dust, each minute the American Dream becoming more of a distant dream than reality.
Some of you – like me – may still be processing the decision. Center yourself.
As I center myself to process this decision, one thing is clear: our parents, families, communities, babas, elders, aunties, nanas, uncles, deserve much more than band-aid solutions. We cannot continue to let our parents believe or say to us- as I often hear- “mijo, con que tu arregles” (son, as long as your [status] is adjusted). Any immigration policy moving forward needs to embrace all of us, our complexities, and the beauty we bring. Our narrative and our policy agenda must be inclusive.
I write this reflection as a reminder that we can do more. That we should do more.
I am inspired by undocumented youth and allies who continue to fight for basic immigrant rights such as access to health care. While there is always room to improve, the movement has forged solidarity with BLM, Asian communities and the LGBTQIA community.
The California Endowment is committed to amplifying the voices of these movements. We will lean on your leadership, we will listen, and I will join you as you chant “Undocumented & Unafraid” because I know our home is here.
(Francisco Espinoza is a Project Manager in the Communications Team. Prior to joining the Communications team, he supported the Fresno Program Manager and the Healthy Communities Director of Communications. Today he oversees the Endowment’s social media and involved in developing relationships with communities to amplify their stories.
Prior to joining the Endowment, Francisco was a Greenling Institute Health Equity Fellow. There he explored the intersection of philanthropy and policy through a racial equity and economic lens.
A beneficiary of AB-540 and other advocacy campaigns like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which provided different opportunities to support undocumented youth and other young people. He loves to laugh, the sport of baseball, and enjoys the occasional night hike in Yosemite.)