POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

New Jersey Dreamers react as Trump reboots DACA court battle

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

“I cried so many times yesterday, I can’t even remember. And they were tears of joy and tears of exhaustion.” Deya Aldana breathed a momentary sigh of relief. After dozens of rallies and protests, including one she attended before the U.S. Supreme Court when it heard the DACA case last year, the Jersey Dreamer is feeling a little safer today after the justices blocked the Trump Administration from ending DACA. Aldana’s life had been on hold, “do I want to buy a home? Do I want to build a relationship with someone? All of those things become extra hard, because you don’t want to have to let them go.” She’s one of almost 17,000 New Jersey residents enrolled in DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, out of 53,000 who are eligible.

Many celebrated the high court’s ruling in Zoom chats and news conferences. Dreamer Nicole Romero said, “I feel so happy, and most importantly, so relieved! I know this isn’t over but it feels so great to say, “Si, se pudo!”

It’s not over. Today the President tweeted, he’s heading back to court, “The Supreme Court asked us to resubmit on DACA, nothing was lost or won…We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly.” Legal analysts explained, the court didn’t overturn DACA it just ruled Trump’s process for rescinding it was improper. Jason Hernandez, an attorney for Rutgers immigrant Community Assistance Project, said, “The Administration has some guidance that was included in the decision that explains what steps can be taken to come in line with the Administrative Procedures Act. The Administration has options. The question is, what is the timeline for those options.”

Dreamers reacted to the renewed legal battle. “Yeah, I mean, we didn’t expect any less from him, so we’ll just have to restrategize,” continued Aldana.

“I don’t find that surprising at all. And I think a lot of people won’t find that surprising. But I honestly didn’t think he would react as fast,” Dreamer Carimer Andujar led bold protest marches at Rutgers three years ago urging the university to offer sanctuary for undocumented students. “We have called America home for all of our lives! We are American, whether you close the borders, like it or not!” Andujar’s now a chemical engineer, seeking work in Texas, still advocating for reform. “If more people begin to understand the plight of undocumented immigrants they would begin to understand why we need comprehensive immigration reform.”

“We’re not going to have a full recovery if we leave a whole group of New Jerseyans behind,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz who is sponsoring legislation that would affect the 140,000 undocumented New Jersey immigrants who pay $600 million in taxes yet can’t collect unemployment or pandemic relief. She says, Dreamers are teachers, front-line workers and more. “They are paying taxes in the State of New Jersey. They have a tax ID number, and so they pay into these pools of funds so they should be able to tap into these resources, as well.” As for the DACA legal battle, she says it will be a race, the courts against the election calendar.