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Utah ‘dreamers’ applaud Supreme Court’s decision on DACA

(People outside the Supreme Court, supporting the DACA program. Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP Photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – ‘Dreamers’ in Utah say they’re over the moon over the Supreme Court’s decision preventing the Trump Administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.  However, they say the federal government still has a massive amount of work left to do if they want to reform the immigration system

Yesenia Timoteo is Utah Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens.  She’s also a “dreamer.”  She was brought to the United States by her parents when she was three years old.  Under DACA, she was protected from deportation as long as she keeps registering for that protection every two years, she doesn’t pose a risk to national security and if she doesn’t get convicted of a felony.

When she heard about the high court’s decision, she says she and her mom “ugly cried” because emotions were so intense.

“All I could do is feel the tears coming down my face.  Tears of joy, of sadness.  I was just full of emotion and I couldn’t really process everything,” she says.

She was especially happy after learning DACA was restored to how it was originally drafted when President Obama signed it.  That means “dreamers” will be able to visit family members and accept internships outside of the country.

Timoteo says, “It’s amazing because that means a lot more people are going to be able to apply for it.”

The ruling is getting high praise from Utah Democrats.  Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill issued a statement, calling it a good policy for the safety of all communities.

Gill states, “Today’s ruling continues to uphold the recognition and protections afforded to some 650 thousand people across America whose only crime was that they were young and innocent when their parents came to this country. This ruling also affirms the need for an open and trusting relationship with local law enforcement. Otherwise, individuals are subjected to violence and exploitation if they are left in the shadows.”

Representative Ben McAdams issued a statement, calling the ruling an important but “temporary reprieve.”

It reads, “The individuals known as Dreamers are our classmates, our coworkers, our neighbors and members of our congregations. Brought here as young children, this is the only home most of them have ever known. They are working, serving in the military, enrolled in college, and are giving back to the community. The Supreme Court ruling today is welcome news that for now, they will be able to continue their lives.”

Other advocates say DACA was never meant to be a permanent immigration reform measure.  Community activist Antonella Packard supports DACA, but she thinks President Trump’s efforts to end the program could have been a catalyst to make significant immigration reform in Washington D.C.  However, that didn’t happen.

“Senator [Orrin] Hatch was behind what was the Dream Act.  This should actually have been something that should have been resolved in Congress, and it still needs to be,” she says.  “I hope that people can see that there is bipartisan support in order to find a more permanent solution.”