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Dealing with DACA uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 29, 2020

A decision on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, could be released by the U.S. Supreme Court as early as Monday.

This program allows undocumented immigrants brought as children to live and work in the U.S.

Why is DACA’s fate in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court? In September, 2017, the Trump administration announced it will end DACA.

This decision was later challenged in lower courts and in June last year, the Supreme Court announced it would hear the case and make a decision in 2020.

“The Supreme Court is about to provide its finding, whether or not the President was correct in using his authority to end it or not,” said immigration lawyer, Ezequiel Hernandez.

For the last two weeks about 24 thousand DACA recipients living in Arizona have been waiting to see what the court will say.

“It’s been a very difficult subject to wake up every Monday and Thursday checking up on the Supreme Court hearings to see if they have made a decision on DACA. It’s almost as if we are in this purgatory stage of now knowing what’s going on,” said Eddie Chavez-Calderon, a DACA recipient who was brought to Arizona as a toddler.

ABC15’s special reporting project, The Rebound Arizona is taking a look at what the U.S. Supreme Court decision would mean for Arizona DREAMers living under this special immigration status and how it is affecting their mental health.

It’s causing such a traumatic effect with the added fear of the COVID-19 virus, knowing that right now to shift any sort of life into a new pathway would be extremely hard,” said Chavez-Calderon.

There are about 650 thousand DACA recipients nationwide, for Chavez-Calderon, ending DACA would mean ending the only life he’s known.

Immigration lawyer Ezequiel Hernandez says DACA’s fate is really up to President Trump.

”It’s really up to the President to figure out what happens after the finding and moving forward with all these individuals that would potentially be out of status. They would have to figure out if the work permits would continue until they expire or if once it’s ended, it’s ended.”

Eddie says he just wishes they had a decision so they’ll know how to reach or what to do: “this decision could mean that our lives won’t be the same anymore, that we won’t be able to see our families anymore or that we might potentially be deported.”

For Eddie, the uncertainty is taking a toll on DACA recipients’ mental health, “It’s okay to feel anxious, it’s okay to feel sad and angry.”

Eddie says, it’s important to try to focus on things that bring joy to your life, in his case he says, he has found comfort in giving back to the community.

“We’ve been making hundreds of thousands of masks with Arizona Jews for Justice to donate to the Navajo Nation,” said Chavez-Calderon.

It is also okay to reach out for help, the organization “Informed Immigrant” has published a guide with information about mental health services available to immigrants impacted by changes to DACA as they deal with COVID-19.

You can find their information here.

For updates on the Supreme Court of the United States calendar, check here.