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DACA ruling reopens doors to eligible students and other undocumented immigrants

Blake Norddohl

Blake Nordahl, professor of lawering skills and supervising attorney for the Immigration Law Clinic at Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, was a panelists during a July 7 webinar focused on the recent Supreme Court ruling that the Trump Administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was unlawful.

Jul 10, 2020
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The recent United States Supreme Court ruling that the Trump Administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) act was unlawful is good news for thousands of people across the United States, including some University of the Pacific students.

However, will the decision be only temporary?

That issue and more was the focus of a July 7 webinar sponsored by the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), of which Pacific is a member.

Blake Nordahl, professor of lawering skills and supervising attorney for the Immigration Law Clinic at Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, was one of the panelists.

DACA, which started in 2012 under the Obama Administration, temporarily protects eligible immigrants who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA recipients can apply for authorization to work lawfully in the United States, as well as obtain a Social Security number and Medicare. DACA is renewable in two-year increments.

The Department of Homeland Security ended DACA in September 2017, but has resumed accepting requests to renew permits.

On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the government did not follow proper procedures in rescinding DACA. The majority of the court found the decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”

Immigration rights proponents nationwide reacted with cautious optimism.

“The day of the decision, the following weekend and just earlier this week, we are already hearing news that the Trump Administration has plans to refile the paperwork to end DACA,” Nordahl said.

Nordahl said the Trump Administration would have two options: arguing that DACA is illegal or that it is bad policy.

“In my mind at least, it’s very difficult to say it is bad policy in terms of the benefits we have all seen that DACA has provided our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors and our students,” he said.

Pacific Provost Maria Pallavicini, who was interim president at the time of the ruling, praised the Supreme Court’s action in a statement.

“This decision affirms University of the Pacific's longstanding commitment to protect and support all of our students, including those who are undocumented. Pacific will continue to provide a respectful, safe and inclusive environment and embrace the intellectual freedom, religious freedom and freedom of expression that are the hallmarks of higher learning.” 

Nordahl outlined options for students and others eligible for DACA:

  • “If you have DACA as of June 18 (the date of the SCOTUS ruling), you can continue to renew your applications. And you should. We are recommending at the immigration clinic if your DACA is going to expire any time in the next year, you should be filing your application to renew your DACA status.”
  • “What if your DACA status is already expired? Those individuals as well should be filing applications to renew. If your DACA status expired within the last year, you can simply re-file a renewal application. If it is expired more than one year in the past, you actually have to go back to the beginning and start a new application for DACA.”

McGeorge School of Law has issued a Statement of Support and Recommendation to DACA recipients. They are urged to meet with an immigration attorney.

The other panel members were Illiana Perez, director of research and entrepreneurship for the group Immigrants Rising, and Daniel Caballero, assistant director of first-generation and undocumented student programs at Pomona College.

Perez focused on economic opportunities and the impact of undocumented immigrants on society as a whole. She described Immigrants Rising’s mission as “empowering young people to achieve educational and career goals through personal, institutional and policy transformation. “

Caballero spoke about efforts Pomona College has made to strengthen its outreach and services to help undocumented students.

Kristen Soares, president of AICCU, said member universities must work together to take the uncertainty out of DACA and to help secure the future for undocumented students.

“We need to get together and get in front of Congress so this can be made permanent,” she said.

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