Reaction to DACA decision grows, California’s universities respond


Joseph Daniels

Diana Monroy hugs her daughter during a protest at Capitol Mall in Sacramento on Sept. 5. The protest was in response to the Trump administration’s announcement that it would seek to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The Trump administration formally announced its plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Sept. 5, a decision which inspired a host of reactions from members of the Sacramento State community, including protests and lawsuits.

DACA provides amnesty on a renewable two-year basis for more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants. California has over 200,000 DACA recipients, which is more recipients than any other state in the country, according to the latest US Citizen and Immigration Services report.

To be eligible for DACA, applicants must have arrived in the United States before the age of 16, and have lived there since June 15, 2007. Additionally, applicants must have been younger than 30 when the US Department of Homeland Security introduced the program in 2012.

The Department of Homeland Security will stop reviewing applications for the program as of Tuesday, but will allow current holders to renew their statuses for the next six months to allow Congress to deliberate if the program will be continued, and to what capacity.

Sacramento State had 65 DACA holders last spring according to Elisa Smith, the previous communications director for Sac State.

“That includes those on F-1 visas (they are seeking a degree) and permanent residents (they have green cards),” Smith said in an email to The State Hornet in January.

Craig Koscho, the acting news director for the university’s public affairs and reporting office, said that there are around 1,000 undocumented students who attend Sac State.

To many, the decision was not a surprise — it was an executive order made by then-president Barack Obama which Donald Trump spoke about changing, according to CNN. However, many DACA recipients like Gloria Del Aguila and Araceli Mancera felt a range of emotions when the decision was announced.

“First is the denial,” said Mancera. “Then you’re like, ‘Oh man, I need an ID. I need this, need that.’ Now I’m in between anger and empowerment.”

Del Aguila reiterated that, like many other undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients living in America, coming to the country was not her choice, adding that she is glad to be here now.

“Before, I used to blame my mom about it, but now, it’s like you know she risked her life to bring me here to give me a better future,” said Del Aguila. “So I’m actually thankful for that. I don’t blame her for anything.”

On the day of the announcement, a group of students gathered in the library quad to protest the decision.

Led by Rosa Barrientos and other members of Students for Quality Education, students chanted and spoke in favor of DACA programs before marching around the north end of campus.

“Now more than ever, we need to stand with them and show the undocumented students that they have a family and that they have allies that are willing to stand with them during their times of need,” Barrientos said during the demonstration.

Jorge Quintana helped Barrientos organize the protests, and said that it was important for students to help each other when faced with adversity.

“We want to show the Sac State community that we’re vocal about these issues,” Quintana said.  “Today it’s undocumented students, but tomorrow it could be black students, Muslim students.  We want people to show solidarity.”

Barrientos, Quintana and a few other students who work with the California Dream Network helped to organize another protest off campus, in front of the US Customs and Immigration Services field office on Capitol Mall.

Martha Ancajas, a DACA recipient and Sac State student, attended the protest and said that she felt as if the dialogue was a positive part of an otherwise disappointing situation. Ancajas said the decision “breaks my heart,” but felt empowered by the resistance showed at the protests.

“It just gives me hope to keep organizing, to keep fighting as a dreamer, as an activist,” Ancajas said.

Sac State President Robert Nelsen attended the afternoon protest, chanting along with the crowd on the same day he and ASI president Mia Kagianas sent out statements on the issue to the Sac State community.

Nelsen urged members of the campus community to support and protect undocumented students, citing the decision to remove DACA programs as a “political statement.”

Nelsen was one of 650 college presidents to sign an open letter which advocated for the DACA program.

“This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity,” the letter says. “America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”

Nelsen is not the only leader in the CSU system to denounce the Trump Administration’s approval — California State University Chancellor Timothy White sent a message to the CSU community in which he defended the rights of undocumented students on campus.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue the CSU’s commitment to advance advance and extend knowledge, learning and culture; to provide opportunities for individuals to develop intellectually, personally and professionally; and to prepare educated and responsible alumni who are ready and able to contribute to California’s culture and economy,” read the letter. “To that end, I will continue to advocate for our current and future students and employees who are affected by this unfortunate development.”

Chancellor White joined five other California university system presidents in signing a letter of support for the DACA program addressed to the California Congressional Delegation.

Both the UC Regent and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra have filed suit against the Trump Administration in response to rescinding DACA programs. Becerra cited California’s economy as his main point of concern.

Both governor Jerry Brown and lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom have showed support of these lawsuits.

President Trump has arbitrarily and unlawfully manufactured a crisis in the lives of fellow Californians,” Newsom said in a press release. “The U.C.’s DREAMers and its staff are integral to the academic and intellectual fabric of our campuses, and it is paramount that the University protects the future workforce and families of California.”


Additional reporting by Joseph Daniels

RELATED: #SacStateSays: How do you feel about the decision to end DACA?