I breathed a sigh of relief when the U.S. Supreme Court decision was announced, blocking the rescission of DACA—a decision the Trump administration had announced three years earlier. After so much uncertainty, my family and friends celebrated this bit of good news. It was a long time coming.
But all our joy, of course, is tempered. While the decision has temporarily relieved some of the stress related to the insecurities we’ve all been feeling, it was immediately replaced by anxiety over what might happen next.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was popular among my peers from the start. It allowed many of us, without the threat of deportation hanging over our heads, to accept employment and pursue careers in ways we never thought possible—including in the health care field, where we are part of the workforce now battling the coronavirus.
DACA came at a time when many parts of the country were adopting anti-immigrant laws. It was a temporary solution to the inefficiencies of the U.S. immigration system and congressional inaction.
But the program, favored by a majority of Americans, immediately became a bargaining chip by an administration focused not on the scrap of humanity it delivers to those of us who came here as children, but on building a wall that would keep us out.
Regardless, the Supreme Court has, in part, given the Trump administration a step-by-step guide on how to remove DACA. And it’s quite possible the administration might come back and shut the program down by giving a more detailed rationale for its policy. Justice Samuel Alito said as much in his dissent: “The Court still does not resolve the question of DACA’s rescission,” he wrote. “Instead, it tells the Department of Homeland Security to go back and try again.”
Immigration, as political as it is, is more than that. It is about how we treat each other as human beings, how we show compassion and keep families together.
The decision by the high court comes amid a global pandemic and an uprising in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police that lays bare the extend of racial injustice in this country.
The need to fight for racial justice has never been greater. And it’s never been clearer that the fight for immigrant justice is the fight for racial justice.
The COVID-19 crisis in the United States has unclouded the veil of extreme inequality among vulnerable groups, most especially among people in Black communities. And as someone involved in the ongoing work for immigrant rights, I have been reactivated to rethink how my advocacy extends to the greater social issues we need to address in this country now.
Now, more than ever, we must examine how we have left out the Black community from conversations around immigration enforcement. The fight against migrant detention and the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is inextricably tied to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, especially when one considers the disproportionate rate at which government deports Black immigrants.
DACA includes young Black immigrants who are participants in this American experiment, but have been pushed to the margins by a system that sees all undocumented immigrants as Brown people. Without recognizing and acting on this, however, we cannot move towards a sustainable and more just immigration system.
When we talk about immigration, we need to talk about all immigrants, including my undocumented Black peers and Black migrants who are among those on the southern border hoping to find security in this country.
And we must all support the Black and Indigenous movements that also seek justice, a justice that keeps families together and builds stronger communities—not one that divides us.
And while the fight for DACA continues, we must push for broader legislative action that can heal our nation from the crimes we commit against Black and Brown people inside the immigration system and outside of it.
We have to be willing to embrace new ways of thinking about creating healthy communities, in the same way we’ve changed our habits during the current pandemic.
Carlos Rodriguez is an immigrant advocate working along the southwest borderlands who uses his position to talk about issues related to immigration, affordable housing, and homelessness.