Advocates: Migrants should join social justice movements, garner support for legalization


DACA still subject to repeal, so immigration reform remains only permanent solution, Latino leaders say

A woman stands with a sign on June 21, 2020 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protesters rallied in front of the St. Paul Capitol to demand reform at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Advocates are urging young migrants to keep their DACA permits up to date, now that the Supreme Court has brushed aside President Trump’s 2017 attempt to do away with the program.

But they are also suggesting caution for those who stayed on the sidelines and never applied for protection from deportation and work permits afforded to them under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“It is important to seek qualified advice from an immigration attorney or (nonprofits) certified by the Board of Immigration,” said Douglas Interiano, executive director of Proyecto Inmigrante in Irving, Texas. “It could be that (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) takes the position of not accepting new applications, reject them, or, if they find something (wrong), they could expose (the applicant) to deportation procedures.”

Latinos find common ground with ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement

That’s why a number of advocates in Texas and elsewhere say these migrants and their parents won’t get peace of mind until Congress passes an immigration reform bill. They add this is the right time to make allies in their struggle to obtain legalization.

Migrant advocates take part in a teleconference on the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). (photo courtesy Border Network for Human Rights)

“One of the great errors of the past 20 years has been isolation, assuming that those in a position of power would support us without a coalition of allies,” said Oscar Chacon, co-founder and executive director of the Chicago-based advocacy group Alianza Americas.

He said the growing social justice movement in America represents an opportunity for DACA recipients and other migrants who’ve been in the country for many years to procure those allies.

“It’s not just about going out to a protest against the police, it’s about getting involved in an in-depth conversation (with other groups) to understand their struggle and make common cause,” Chacon said.

The immigrants from Latin America, for instance, share a common history of discrimination and police abuse in this country as the black communities whose leaders are taking to the streets and bringing about change, he and others said.

Protesters stand at an intersection on June 21, 2020, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Protesters rallied in front of the St. Paul Capitol to demand reform at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

“(Discrimination), racism, police brutality is not exclusive of migrant communities. This is a system that criminalizes all people of color … that’s why we have more in common with the Black Lives Matter movement than we think,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of El Paso’s Border Network for Human Rights.

Speaking in a Zoom forum, Garcia echoed that immigration reform will only happen in the next Congress if the migrants and their advocates participate in other social justice movements and garner the support of those communities and their representatives in Congress.

“The solutions are not in the hands of anyone group anymore. Immigration reform will only pass if there is support from other colored communities throughout the country,” he said. “We must show support for George Floyd, for Erik Salas-Sanchez and all those who have died at the hands of police.”

In the meantime, DACA beneficiaries are waiting on Trump’s next move. The president last week tweeted he would again try to do away with DACA.

Chacon said the president certainly can do that, but he doesn’t believe that will happen before the November general election.

“He will talk about in the campaign to rile up his base, but he doesn’t have enough time to come up with an order that will pass judicial scrutiny,” Chacon said. “(His staff) knows that groups will take the next order to court right away.”

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