USF Community Reflects on Possible Termination of DACA: LUNA hosts “Undocuweek” to support undocumented immigrants

The lecture invited DACA students to discuss “steps to take” in light of DACA’s possible termination, according to LUNA’s Instagram. Photo by Samantha Avila Griffin/SF Foghorn.

Professor Bill Hing solemnly addressed a room of students on Apr. 11, saying, “These are some uncertain times…I’m sorry that this is happening to you all.” His voice sounded tired as he ended his lecture, sponsored by Latine Undergraduate Network of Activists (LUNA), at USF Law’s Kendrick Hall, Moot Courtroom. 

During the talk, he discussed the possible termination of the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

DACA is an administrative relief program which was established in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, providing legal protections to undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children. According to the University of California, Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program, DACA provides eligible immigrants with “protection from deportation and… a work permit.”

Hing’s DACA lecture was a part of an “Undocuweek” series at USF, organized by LUNA, an advocacy organization on campus that promotes positive representation of Latine students at USF and creates a space for Latine community members. Undocuweek was a week-long program where LUNA hosted various events from Apr. 8 to Apr. 12, with the goal of education and humanizing undocumented immigrants. Events ranged from celebrations to workshops and Hing’s DACA lecture.  

Hing is the founding director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic at USF, which works to represent immigrant families and children, the majority of whom are seeking asylum. He also founded the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, “There were 579,000 active DACA holders” as of Mar. 2023. As of the last available data in 2022, 40% of these DACA recipients were enrolled in school, with the majority, 83%, working towards a bachelor’s degree or higher, as reported by the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

In July 2021, Judge Andrew S. Hanen from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that DACA was unlawful, following requests from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas and Mississippi, NBC reports. They argued that “only Congress has the authority to grant unauthorized immigrants federal benefits,” and since Obama enacted DACA, it made the program, “an illegal overreach of executive power,” the same article reports.  

Hanen’s ruling prohibited U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from accepting first-time, new DACA applications, a precedent which continues today. The department continues to accept DACA renewals for people who had already entered the program before the Texas ruling in 2021, however. 

Since 2021, President Joe Biden’s administration has fought this precedent, going back and forth to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals multiple times. It’s anticipated that the case will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall. In the lecture, Hing mentioned that one of the biggest threats against DACA currently is the Supreme Court ratio of six conservative justices to three liberals. According to Data For Progress, in 2023, 63% of Republican voters opposed continuing DACA. It is likely, as Hing expressed, that the right-leaning nature of the court could lead to a permanent end to the DACA program. 

Camila Ayala Hurtado, the president of USF’s Supporting Immigrants and Refugees Club, said, “I find the potential termination of DACA deeply distressing…This is a serious human rights issue and would be a loss for the country as a whole, considering how our immigrant communities have meaningfully contributed to this country in a variety of ways.”

Further, Hurtado said, “For many DACA recipients, the United States is the only home they have known. Thinking of these people being potentially deported to unfamiliar countries is both heartbreaking and unjust. There are no words to describe how this uncertainty is devastating and makes me lose hope for the future of our immigrant communities in this country.”

Paulina Diaz-Mandujano, a student who attended the DACA lecture said, “I think it’s so cool that student organizations such as LUNA help arrange these events, especially in such scary times.”

Hurtado said, “I want to believe that by standing in solidarity and advocating against DACA ending, we can prevent this and protect our communities.”

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, News Editor: Niki Sedaghat 

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