DACAmented and here to stay

How the proposed removal of DACA is affecting Memphis’ undocumented youth


Latino Memphis

Students holding up signs at the DACA Vigil organized by Latino Memphis.

Undocumented youth across the country are sitting in classrooms and living normal lives just like you and I; that all began to change when the Trump administration issued a statement to rescind DACA.


DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order issued in 2012 from the Obama administration. It was a saving grace for many undocumented children who were brought to the United States illegally. This action has not only lifted the fears of deportation, but has also given young undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain work permits, access a college education, and apply for something as simple as a driver’s license.


President Trump has given Congress six months to make a decision on whether or not to pass legislation to protect undocumented youth. If Congress does not take action, the majority of DACA recipients will lose their status and benefits in March 2020. Fear of deportation rises as there is now a database that contains detailed information of these undocumented youth.  


“This is our lives being played around with,” Carlos Torres, DACA recipient who spoke to government teacher Erika Sugarmon’s class said. “I was able to go to college and I was be able to do what I want to do, which is teach.”


Torres was enrolled in the University of Memphis, studying to become a teacher and able to do so much because of the benefits of DACA. Upon finding out that he was at risk of losing his DACA benefits, Torres immediately stormed out of class in sadness. Later that week, he unenrolled from school because he felt that he would no longer be able to pursue his dreams. In spite of the government’s decisions, some local school systems stand firm in their belief of welcoming students of all backgrounds.


“Shelby County schools is a system that welcomes all students and is committed to students regardless of immigration status,” Susan Satar, White Station instructional facilitator, said.


Shelby County Schools detailed how they plan to do that in a recent resolution, which outlines methods for how to better support their students in this stressful time. Despite the current climate for undocumented immigrants, Shelby County Schools ensures that all their students have a safe learning environment.


Although the future for undocumented students is unclear, their communities, peers and teachers are prepared to stand behind them.


UPDATE: Shortly following the original report to rescind DACA in early September, President Trump announced that he would work with Democrats to pass new legislation that would protect undocumented children. On September 25, Republican Senators Tillis, Lankford and Hatch introduced the SUCCEED ACT that could potentially offer undocumented youth a path to citizenship. What lies ahead for undocumented youth is unclear. With the issue gaining more attention, however, DACA recipients may receive news on their status within the next six months.