Triangle students, advocates respond to judge's DACA stay

A California judge granted a reprieve to over 800,000 DACA recipients across America after ruling the Trump administration cannot move forward with its effort to end protections for those facing deportation.

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In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote: "DACA covers a class of immigrants whose presence, seemingly all agree, pose the least, if any, threat and allows them to sign up for honest labor on the condition of continued good behavior. This has become an important program for DACA recipients and their families, for the employers who hire them, for our tax treasuries, and for our economy."

The news quickly reached Wake Tech student Maria Gonzalez, whose protected status is set to expire in November 2019.

Even with Judge Alsup's ruling, Gonzalez is still living with a dose of uncertainty.

"What's my next step? Where do I go from here?" she asked. "My plan is continuing my education as far as I can. But it's a question of will my degree be worth it or worthwhile."

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Raw video: Young immigrants talk about DACA. Hear from Maria Gonzalez, shown, and Sam Gomez Olvera.

The political science student told ABC11 she will be able to make it until her senior year and graduate before her protection expires. Her parents brought her to the US when she was 1-year-old for health reasons.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump, in a rare, televised bi-partisan meeting, sat down with both sides to discuss DACA and immigration reform. California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein, asked President Trump if he would be open to a "clean DACA bill" and then revisit comprehensive border security at a later date. Trump proceeded to agree before being interrupted by fellow Republicans, who insisted a wall on the southern border be included in the Democrats' DACA proposal.

"I don't think (Congress) understands," Gonzalez said. "They're on the other side of the issue ... they're missing the humanity side of it." Gonzalez compares her life somewhat to that of a puzzle piece. "They're playing us. They're using us to get what they want," she said. "It's for politics. It's for them to say, 'well I promised it and I'm going to get it and it's not really going to do anything, and it keeps my image as this conservative man who ran for President on this thing that I'm going to give you."

Judge Alsup's ruling Tuesday night only gave her a small window of hope.


"I will stay here until I can," Gonzalez said. "They need to understand that we're all human and this land is nobody's land. We all deserve to exist and have an existence worth living."

Across the Triangle at UNC-Chapel Hill, freshman student Sam Gomez Olvera, from Charlotte is "angry" about what may come next.

Despite Judge Alsup's ruling, the computer science major said his anger comes from, "having your life in the hands of a couple people that really don't care about you. It really feels like you have an expiration date on yourself."

His family moved around from Texas to Georgia and South Carolina before eventually settling in Charlotte.

"At the end of the day, I feel like I'm an American at heart," Gomez Olvera said. "Everything about me is American. The only thing that differentiates me from other people is just a piece of paper that tells me I'm a citizen."

Since moving to the United States when he was only 6 months old, Gomez Olvera said he has not been back to Mexico to visit. "I have no idea what it looks like. I do not know any relatives there. I don't know that part of Mexico," he said.

In a statement to ABC11 supporting the federal court's decision to uphold DACA, El Pueblo wrote:

"El Pueblo is pleased to hear that a federal judge has temporarily blocked the rescinding of the highly successful DACA program, which has positively affected the lives of over 800,000 children and young adults nationwide. A majority of the youth who have been positively affected by DACA know no other home besides the United States, and it is a relief that they will be able to lawfully continue to pursue their dreams and enrich our country. We call upon Congress to expand upon this by passing a clean DREAM Act that provides strong pathways to citizenship without harmful concessions that separate families and loved ones. While this news is heartening, it is not the end of our work, as other policies rooted in white supremacy and xenophobia continue to dominate the national and local policy debates. El Pueblo is grateful to all of our allies who have spoken up on behalf of immigrant youth and will continue our work towards building strong communities where all are welcome and valued for their dignity as human beings."
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