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‘Dreamers’ Celebrate DACA Decision, But Await Ultimate Goal Of Immigration Reform

Courtesy of Melissa Azofeifa
29-year-old Hampton Bays resident Melissa Azofeifa, far right, came to the U.S. when she was 5. She says the Supreme Court decision lessens the anxiety she feels about being deported and separated from her family.

Some Connecticut and Long Island residents brought into the country illegally by their parents have mixed feelings about the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. 

Melissa Azofeifa graduated from Hampton Bays High School in 2009. That’s around the time she began having tough conversations with her parents about whether she’d be able to stay in the U.S. or be deported to Costa Rica, the country she left when she was 5-years-old. 

She says the Supreme Court ruling protects her and 150,000 other "Dreamers" in New York, but now they need a path to citizenship. 

“The Supreme Court decision is still a huge victory, even though there is more work to be done, but it does lessen the anxiety. It gives us a relief, letting us know that justice is on our side.”

Credit Courtesy of Yenimar Cortes

Yenimar Cortes is a DACA recipient and immigrant rights activist in New Haven. She says the SCOTUS ruling is a win, but her work isn’t over either. Cortes says as long as ICE exists, her community is threatened.

“We see it today with the uprisings of the police brutality protests. That it’s not safe for me, the immigrant community, the Black community and other communities as well. So we know that the answer is to defund and abolish the institutions that cage and harm people.”

Cortes says movements for immigrant rights and Black Lives Matter are connected because of the so-called prison-to-deportation pipeline. Black undocumented immigrants are deported at almost twice the rate of other immigrants.

Credit Courtesy of Joseline Tlacomulco

Joseline Tlacomulco, who also benefits from DACA, says the Supreme Court ruling reminded her of the day President Barack Obama created the program. Her mother was in tears.

“She was crying because she was happy for me. But I think I was crying because I was just mad. I was frustrated that DACA just wasn’t enough to provide relief for my parents. They deserve more.”

Tlacomulco says DACA made it easier to go to college and get a legal work permit to help support her family. She says the ruling is a victory after years of waiting while politicians used DACA as a bargaining chip. Tlacomulco is relieved the program was upheld but says another political challenge could end DACA, unless Congress passes immigration reform.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.
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