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For Wichita Dreamer, DACA Ruling Isn't The End Of The Fight For Immigration Reform

Nadya Faulx
KMUW/File photo
A sign at a rally in 2017 to protest the Trump administration's decision to rescind DACA.

In the almost three years between former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that the Trump administration was ending DACA, and Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling blocking that decision, undocumented immigrants enrolled in the program were left waiting.

"It has put my life and many other individuals up in limbo and just uncertainty just this whole time," says Juan, who asked that his last name not be used. "However, we’ve been living day by day, continuing to fight. You can’t just live in fear."

The court’s 5-4 ruling — that the Trump administration can’t immediately end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started under President Barack Obama in 2012 — focused less on the program itself and more on “whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action,” the decision read.

Still, it came as a relief, said Juan, a Wichita State University senior who said he was brought to the U.S. as a child from Mexico.

"My mom actually texted me as soon as the ruling came out," he said. "And other friends and support groups have [texted] reassurance of the ruling and how grateful they are that the program will continue on."

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement that the court made the "right decision."

"There are more than 6,000 DACA recipients in Kansas — they serve in our military, work in our hospitals, teach our kids, and pay taxes," she wrote. "They were brought here as children, this is their home, they belong here."

Juan said he didn’t know his status until he was a sophomore in high school; his mother told him not to let anyone know he wasn’t born in the U.S.

"When I went into college, I became more vocal about who I am, who I was, and from there I met … peers that had the same status as me," he said. "That opened up my eyes of how we are involved in the community, how were all pursuing an education."

Even with the DACA program intact for now, Juan said permanent action is still needed.

"Undocumented people, we’re contributors to this nation," he said. "Hopefully there’s momentum for Congress to pass reform for us to come out of the shadows fully."

Nadya Faulx is KMUW's Digital News Editor and Reporter, which means she splits her time between working on-air and working online, managing news on KMUW.org, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. She joined KMUW in 2015 after working for a newspaper in western North Dakota. Before that she was a diversity intern at NPR in Washington, D.C.