On Tuesday, September 26, Elizabeth Cervantes from the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project spoke to students and faculty at North Central College regarding the recently rescinded DACA program.
DACA was an Obama-era “administrative relief” aimed to defer deportation for certain people who came to the United States as children for a specific period of time, typically two years. DACA did not, however, provide citizenship or “lawful status” to the eligible people.
“We knew it was coming,” said Cervantes of President Trump’s retraction. “We just didn’t know when or how.”
Cervantes outlined the options for those still under DACA who will no longer be able to re-apply since the scrapping of the program. She also explained what services her organization provides to immigrant families in the Chicago suburbs. There were almost one million people involved in the program nationwide.
The SSIP was formed seven years ago to aid and advocate for the growing immigrant population in the suburbs. This included the area’s undocumented families. The organization is currently hosting DACA workshops to offer information for those stuck in the application process. They partner with Chicago’s Mexican consulate to bring their resources across the state to people outside of the city and assist them in applying for other forms of immigration relief. The organization also helps to rally grassroots support for state and federal legislation involving immigrants.
Years of that hard work came to fruition this past August when Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the “TRUST Act” into law. The act prevents law enforcement from further detaining people on the basis of “immigration detainers or administrative warrant after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody.”
Since its implementation, immigrants have already begun to be released from jails around the state. But even after signing the TRUST Act, the organization’s work for more permanent immigration legislation is far from the finish line. And despite that long road ahead, Cervantes is confident that communities can make their voices heard.
“Things don’t just happen alone,” said Cervantes. “At the end of the day, if people on the ground mobilize and speak up and call their legislatures, they can make change.”
SSIP continues to offer informational seminars and other resources for families in need of assistance in the Chicago suburbs.
Next week, student organizations including the Latin Student Association, Mosaic and the College Democrats will be distributing DACA-related information. They will also provide different avenues for students to show support for DACA recipients. The groups will be set up Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. outside of Old Main.