By Arlin Karina Téllez Martínez
On November 12th, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the first oral arguments on the constitutionality of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). I was first approved for DACA in 2014, my freshman year of high school. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina where living as a Brown, undocumented immigrant woman I constantly experienced the anti-immigrant rhetoric and discrimination that continues to exist in the rural south. This is the reality for many working class undocumented immigrants. The media often portrays and uplifts the toxic “good immigrant narrative.” From the beginning of the introduction of the Dream Act in 2001, the narrative that has been reiterated has only been about university students who are undocumented. This, however, is often not the case. DACA recipients are not just students, we are head of households, parents, workers, humans.
DACA, even though it is only a symbolic temporary protection, it has shown that protection from deportation can make in the lives of undocumented immigrants. DACA has become an essential need for nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants. The cancellation of this program has impacted our community, but our fight is beyond DACA. The movement continues with or without the continuation of the program. We know that the anti-immigrant and white supremacist administration never cared about the legality of DACA but in fact cared about the continued suppression of immigrants of color with a working class background.
In order to receive DACA, immigrants must be deemed noncriminals by the United States government, and its cancellation only furthers the intentions of the Trump administration to criminalize immigrants. Immigrant and reproductive rights activist, Alejandra Pablos, touches on an important part of our movement. She said, “we are not just fighting for DACA, a comprehensive immigration reform, but for the end of the criminalization of migration because in the end, citizenship does not protect us from criminalization.”
It is essential to understand the impact of the racist laws and their effect on our immigrant community today. DACA is not the ultimate protection of our communities, we have seen cases of DACA recipients who were deported even with said protection. Sergio Salazar, also known as Mapache was unjustly deported after participating in an Occupy ICE action in San Antonio, Texas. They were deported as an anarchist extremist. This is an example of how immigrants are censored by the United States.
November 12th is an important date in history for our immigrant community. The Supreme Court heard the DACA oral arguments and also the cases of Sergio Güereca and José Rodriguez, both of whom were murdered by Border Patrol officers while on Mexican soil. The court will decide if the families of Rodriguez and Güereca can sue the United States for the murder of their loved ones. November 12th is more than just about DACA, it is about the future of our community and the recognition of our humanity under Trump’s white supremacist administration.