Mariel Islas moved to the United States when she was five years old and joined the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program at the age of 16.
On Thursday, Oct. 5, Islas and approximately 154,000 DACA recipients in the U.S. will face the last day to renew their eligibility. President Donald Trump announced on Sept. 3 that he intends to promptly repeal the program afterward.
Though many undocumented students have spoken vehemently against Trump’s repeal, Islas is actually glad the administration is repealing the program.
The repeal is a “wake-up call” to undocumented youth that DACA was never permanent, said Islas, fourth-year history of public policy major at UCSB.
She said students can now begin to address flaws in immigration legislation and focus on the rights of the entire undocumented community, not only students.
“Other than just fighting for undocumented students, we need to be fighting for all undocumented individuals in this country,” she said.
The Thursday renewal deadline is only for DACA recipients whose applications expire on or before March 5, 2018. The administration may not announce an extended deadline for the undocumented youth whose applications expire after that date.
Islas’s application expires after the March deadline and she said she may not renew her application if an additional renewal date is scheduled.
“I don’t favor DACA,” she said. “It’s this whole complacency that’s taken part within the community. We just forget about other people’s struggles and other people’s narratives.”
Former President Barack Obama signed DACA into law with an executive order in 2012. Since the program’s introduction, the UC has admitted thousands of recipients.
Over 800,000 young people in the United States are DACA recipients and approximately 4,000 undocumented students attend a UC campus, according to the UC Office of the President.
Islas said she understood the benefits of DACA when she began school at UC Santa Barbara and was hired for an on-campus job. She said, however, that she still lives in “a constant state of fear” because DACA does not protect all members of her family, including her mother.
“Coming from someone who has an undocumented mother, I worry more about her than I worried about myself,” Islas said. “DACA never protected my mom and that was my biggest concern.”
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution Tuesday in support of DACA. Supervisors Janet Wolf, Joan Hartmann and Das Williams were the resolution’s staunchest supporters; supervisors Steve Lavagnino and Peter Adam, however, abstained from voting.
Third District Supervisor Hartmann said while the resolution was primarily a symbolic gesture, she believes symbols are “vitally important” for local communities to impact the federal government’s policies.
“To me, the resolution was a statement that the County values our Dreamers and we have a welcome sign at the door,” Hartmann said in an email. “They should know that we want to invest in their futures because they are critical to the County’s future.”
UC President Janet Napolitano filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on Sept. 8 in response to President Trump’s repeal of DACA. Napolitano alleged that the “unlawful” repeal violated the rights of the people that benefit from the program.
The UC also allocates $2.5 million per year for undocumented student fellowships under Napolitano’s D.R.E.A.M. loan initiative, and grants the UC’s Undocumented Legal Services Center $900,000 per year under the Undocumented Student Services Program.
The United States Supreme Court recently turned down a case challenging the UC Regents’ decision to allow undocumented students access to financial aid and pay in-state tuition fees in California.
President Trump has given the DACA repeal to Congress, which can suggest a replacement for DACA in six months before the president officially abolishes the program.
Islas said while she does not trust Congress, the best form of a new system for the undocumented community would include an updated D.R.E.A.M. Act without the enforcement of border security and detention centers.
“Some safety coming from legislation would be abolishing detention centers,” Islas said. “But I don’t believe the liberation of the undocumented community comes from a piece of legislation.”
“We want to make sure there’s something that’s viable that protects the 11 million [undocumented immigrants],” she added. “It’s not impossible.”
A version of this article appeared on page one of the October 5, 2017, print edition of the Daily Nexus