'Gut punch': Dreamers are anxious over upcoming DACA challenge in the Supreme Court

“Even when we have tough days like today, all we can do is keep going and tell people what’s at stake in 2020,” says a DACA recipient.
Immigrants and supporters march on the Las Vegas Strip on Sept. 10, 2017, against President Trump's order to end DACA.
Immigrants and supporters march on the Las Vegas Strip on Sept. 10, 2017, against President Trump's order to end DACA.Ethan Miller / Getty Images file

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By Suzanne Gamboa and Nicole Acevedo

Bruna Sollod felt like she’d been thrown a gut punch when she saw a text message Friday morning that the Supreme Court had decided to hear a Trump administration challenge to rulings preserving DACA.

Lower courts have kept the Trump administration from ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program known as DACA. Some 700,000 immigrants like Sollod have been protected from deportation and permitted to work under the program.

But the high court’s decision Friday to hear Trump’s challenge in its next term magnified the anxiety of DACA recipients.

“Even though we’ve been preparing for this for a long time, it is still a gut punch,” said Sollod, a DACA recipient who works with United We Dream, an organization that advocates for immigrant young people.

Sollod, 27, is from Brazil and has been living in the U.S. since she was 7.

Like Sollod, DACA recipients are immigrants who have been in the country since they were very young, often arriving or staying without legal authorization because it's what their families have done.

President Donald Trump tried to end the DACA program, but several courts blocked the effort. The Trump administration argues the program interferes with its immigration enforcement and sanctions violation of federal law.

DACA recipients and immigration advocates had hoped the high court would pass and let the lower court rulings stand. But even with that possibility they have been hoping Congress would pass legislation giving them a path to legal permanent status.

The House did recently pass such legislation, but the Senate is not likely to do the same.

“With the lower courts united in their position that the administration’s actions to end DACA were likely unlawful, the Supreme Court’s decision to step in and take up the case is an unnecessary intervention that will only increase the anxiety of thousand of current DACA recipients,” said Tom Jawetz, vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Within five minutes of receiving news of the Supreme Court’s action, Sollod began working the phones and reaching out to other young immigrants, who call themselves Dreamers, knowing some might be scared.

She encouraged them to renew their DACA status and informed them of help that is available.

"If there are folks and allies learning about this and asking themselves how can they help, donating money to the DACA renewal fund is one of the best things they can do. It costs $500 to renew DACA and there’s a long wait list for scholarships," Sollod said. "By renewing, they could get at least get two more years of protections."

Although DACA recipients can’t vote, many actively participate in campaigns and get-out-the-vote drives and encourage family and friends who are eligible to vote on their behalf.

“Even when we have tough days like today, all we can do is keep going and tell people what’s at stake in 2020,” she told NBC News.

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