The Boise State Latinx student group Movimiento Estudiantil Progressive Action (MEPA) organized a rally on the Idaho Capitol steps with Immigrant Justice Idaho, PODER of Idaho and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho to show support for Idaho recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) documentation.
The DACA policy, signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012, gives young people who were brought to the U.S. as children a two-year protection against deportation to receive a work permit to stay in the United States. Individuals protected under the policy are referred to as DREAMers. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump rescinded the policy expansion, but its removal has been put on hold by court proceedings and the failure of Congress to pass alternative immigration legislation. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments to decide the future of DACA. According to the National Immigration Law Center, a ruling is expected by summer of 2020.
Though the conservative Supreme Court may side with the Trump administration and rule DACA unconstitutional, Alma Alba of PODER of Idaho said that as a DREAMer herself, she has long understood that a court’s decision cannot decide her attitude.
“I am not afraid,” Alba said. “I was for a long time, and I will not go back.”
Speaking on the Capitol steps was Alba’s first time sharing her story publicly. She spoke about growing up in Washington, where she was the only Latina in her high school graduating class but never felt different from her classmates. Since DACA became threatened she feared what would happen to her, but was inspired to make a change.
“I want 10-year-old me, and 10-year-old girls today, to see me and think ‘I can do what she’s doing,’ because that’s something I didn’t have,” Alba said. “I will be an attorney one day, and no matter what happens I will pursue my goals.”
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden was one of nine state attorney generals to sign a letter in 2017 urging President Trump to remove DACA. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Trump’s administration and much of Idaho’s state government, it would endanger Idaho’s DACA recipients. The American Immigration Council showed that as of 2016, 3,383 DACA-eligible recipients had applied. Alba, however, said that today the number might be closer to 8,000 Idahoans, and over 800,000 immigrants nationally.
Vice President of Boise State’s Inclusive Excellence Student Council and junior sociology major Lydia Hernandez led a call to action at the rally. Hernandez spoke about cultivating love instead of hate, and challenged supporters to consider how their daily actions were actively advocating for the immigrant community. She urged the crowd to hold their elected officials accountable.
“Vote for those who cannot,” Hernandez said.
Rally participant Kera Nunez, a junior studying political science, recently visited the Capitol building for the first time with MEPA to promote civic engagement within the community. Nunez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants but not a recipient of DACA. As part of the Latinx community, she said people often stereotype her, thinking she is also part of the immigrant community.
“It’s important to support my friends who organized this, important because I know people in my community are DACA recipients and important because this movement does affect me,” Nunez said.
For Alba, seeing other DREAMers and community members support gives her an even greater sense of belonging.
“I am a dreamer,” Alba said. “I am by all definitions the embodiment of the American dream.”