Today, Donald Trump decided to end the DACA program that’s prevented the deportation of 800,000 young immigrants… Though Trump had Attorney General Jeff Sessions make the announcement for him. In the hours following the announcement, Nevadans sprang into action and vowed to continue fighting until Nevada’s 13,000 DACA recipients and their families can finally live without fear.
There are just over 13,000 DACA recipients in Nevada, contributing over $600 million to the state’s economy. Since then President Barack Obama announced the creation of DACA in June 2012, these immigrants who were brought to America as children have been able to live and work without constant fear of deportation.
That came to an end this week, when news broke of Trump’s decision to end DACA. While the White House was spinning the six-month phase-out as a “humane compromise”, Sessions reiterated the same debunked anti-immigrant talking points he’s used before to justify the Trump Administration’s deportation agenda. The White House has said Congress can use the next six months to pass legislation to provide permanent protection for DREAMers, yet the White House has also confirmed it’s using DREAMers as bargaining chips to get funding for Trump’s desired border wall.
Against this backdrop, Nevadans spoke out to denounce Trump’s decision to end DACA.
“They’re using human lives as bargaining chips. I’m tired of it!”
– Assembly Member Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas)
At the East Las Vegas Community Center, a place that’s already become a sort of safe space for Southern Nevada’s immigrant communities, elected leaders and community advocates gathered to condemn Trump’s decision and chart the path forward. Nevada Assemblyman Edgar Flores was particularly fed up with DREAMers being used as pawns on the political chessboard. “It is not just about numbers. […] It’s not OK. These are human beings, and we have to talk about them as such.”
Earlier, UNLV Immigration Law Clinic Director Michael Kagan explained the much more dangerous legal environment for DREAMers going forward. “Without DACA, they will return to the situation they were in before [DACA in] 2012. [Many of them] are deportable. […] This will be a scary situation for many of our neighbors, many whom I share a campus with.”
“We deserve to be here just as much as anyone else does.”
– Sergio Hernandez
At the East Las Vegas event, Sergio Hernandez came out as a DREAMer. He also explained why he’s now in this predicament. “I came to the U.S. when I was three years old. I never had a choice. In high school, I learned how hard it is to be undocumented.”
When DACA became available, Hernandez felt like his hope for a better life was finally justified. “I felt like things were changing, I had opportunities in life.” But when Hernandez learned of Trump’s decision to end DACA, “I felt like our world came crashing down.”
And yet, Hernandez decided to come out and fight for his fellow DREAMers. After the event, Hernandez spoke with us and shared why he’s going public now.
“I will not let this fear stop me any more. I will continue to fight.”
– Sergio Hernandez
Hernandez was not alone in refusing to back down. Famed activist Astrid Silva urged her fellow DREAMers to stay involved. “We will always be ready to continue fighting. […] Our community will continue to fight until our families are protected.”
The next six months will be critical for Nevada’s immigrant communities. But if today’s reactions suggest anything, it’s that they refuse to give up. As the old saying goes, “La lucha sigue.” (English translation: The fight continues.)