Immigrants and advocates in Minnesota hailed Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that rejected — at least for now — White House efforts to end legal protections for 650,000 people who were brought into the country illegally as children.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients Ellie M. and her fiancé, Jose Hernandez, of Maple Grove, were thrilled by the court’s 5-4 vote in favor of those commonly referred to as Dreamers.
“I was honestly so stoked because we had fear that it was going to get canceled,” said Ellie, who asked that her last name not be used.
Their two children are both U.S. citizens, and the family planned to celebrate the court ruling Thursday night.
“We are overjoyed,” Veena Iyer, executive director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, said in a statement released soon after the ruling.
Iyer said ending the DACA program “would have been devastating. DACA recipients grew up in the United States. Their home is here. They have deep roots here in Minnesota and in communities across the country. Uprooting their lives would hurt not only them, but millions of their loved ones, neighbors, employers, and community members.”
For both Ellie and Hernandez, returning to Mexico would be next to impossible. They have not visited their home country since they were children, more than 20 years ago for the 33-year-old Hernandez.
“I know that yes, we weren’t born here, but for us the United States is our home. If we were to get sent back, I can speak Spanish, but would I be able to know where my family lived? No,” Ellie said. “If you were to drop me off in Mexico City, the odds of me making it to my family are probably very slim.”
While thrilled with Thursday’s victory for an estimated 5,000 people covered by DACA in Minnesota, Iyer pointed out that the ruling merely buys supporters time because the court ruled that the Department of Homeland Security did not comply with a “procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action” but can try again.
For at least another two years, Hernandez and his fiancée can continue doing things that many citizens take for granted, such as driving with a valid license or keeping a good job.
“This is huge for us. For the future of our kids, we need the jobs that we have,” Hernandez said.
Without DACA, the people it affects are limited to jobs without benefits or opportunities for growth, said Ellie.
“It’s very scary when you turn 18 and you figure out that you can’t really apply for a job. All these places that you apply say ‘something’s wrong, you don’t have a Social (Security Number), you can’t work here,’ ” Ellie said.
The 27-year-old now works in an environment that is supportive of her DACA status.
Iyer pointed out that more than 90% of the nation’s DACA recipients have jobs, contribute tens of billions of dollars to the nation’s economy, and pay $5.7 billion in federal taxes each year.
“While we celebrate, we also recognize that our journey is not over,” Iyer said. “The U.S. Senate must pass the Dream and Promise Act, which offers a permanent legislative solution protecting current DACA recipients and other Dreamers.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called the court’s decision “a victory for America and for the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers across the country.”
“Dreamers were brought here as children and only know the United States as their home,” she said in a statement. “They serve in our military, work at our schools, and contribute to communities across the country. The Trump Administration’s attempt to rescind their legal protections was callous and wrong.”
Minnesota’s Republican members of Congress were contacted for comment about the ruling, along with Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan. None immediately responded.
Former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, the former Republican U.S. representative who is running this election cycle against Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, called the ruling “judicial activism, plain and simple, and something I look forward to tackling when I’m in the Senate by [supporting] constitutional conservatives to the courts.”
Klobuchar agreed with Iyer that a permanent solution is needed to defeat the Trump administration’s campaign to end DACA.
“We must keep working toward comprehensive immigration reform to ensure that Dreamers and their families have a path to citizenship,” her statement read. “We cannot allow their fate to be decided by political whims.”
Christian Darwin, a 39-year-old Dreamer living in Minneapolis, found out about the ruling when all of his friends sent him congratulatory messages Thursday morning.
“I was crying because it was so exciting,” said Darwin, who works and has been a part of the program since 2012. “We’ve been waiting for this news.”