On DACA’s 11th anniversary, San Jose recipients want acceptance
Jesus Ruiz, co-director of Pangea Legal Services, gives a speech about protecting DACA in San Jose on June 15, 2023. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

    Immigrant rights advocates rallied in downtown San Jose on DACA’s 11th anniversary, calling for the program’s continuation as its future remains in limbo.

    Advocates with Amigos de Guadalupe, an immigration nonprofit, carried posters bearing phrases like “¡Actua ahora!” and chanted “Si Se Puede” outside the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on Second Street today. They want the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, to be protected so recipients can continue to work legally in the country without fear of deportation.


    Advocates for immigration rights gathered in downtown San Jose today to call for DACA’s continuation and the expansion of the immigration registry. #daca #sanjose #california #politics #undocumented

    ♬ original sound – San José Spotlight

    Jessica Parra, a community navigator for Amigos de Guadalupe with family who are DACA recipients, said ending the program would be detrimental.

    “It would drastically, drastically diminish someone’s ability to move up the social ladder, the economic ladder,” she told San José Spotlight. “So it wouldn’t just affect me, but millions of families all over the country.”

    Undocumented immigrants who have arrived in the U.S.  have been unable to apply for DACA following a federal Texas judge’s ruling in 2021. An updated judgement is expected later this year.

    DACA, launched in 2012, protects recipients from deportation and allows them to apply for work permits, drivers licenses and Social Security numbers. After the U.S. District Court ruling, new applicants after July 16, 2021 are no longer being accepted, but renewal requests are still allowed for applications prior to that date while the court case is pending. Applicants must reapply every two years to retain their status. It doesn’t guarantee a pathway to citizenship.

    There are approximately 9,000 DACA recipients in San Jose and roughly 600,000 nationwide, according to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services—and more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.

    Advocates are also calling for the immigration registry to be expanded—it currently allows undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship if they arrived in the U.S. before 1972.

    Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who represents downtown and East San Jose, authored a bill in March calling for registry expansion to allow undocumented immigrants who have been in the country for at least seven years to attain citizenship. The bill has been introduced to Congress.

    Parra said expanding the registry is important because DACA does not provide a direct path to citizenship.

    “That’s really the whole point of the American dream, for everybody to get an education, for everybody to strive to achieve their dreams,” she said.

    Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on Twitter.

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