Supreme Court Decision Allows 9K Utah DACA Recipients To Work, Study In US
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A major decision from the U.S. Supreme Court means undocumented immigrants in Utah who were brought to the U.S. as children, can continue to live and work legally in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Thursday’s ruling was a welcome surprise for nearly 9,000 thousand immigrant families in Utah. It doesn’t provide any permanent answers but allows them to stay in the country — for now.
“I was 12 years old, I came here with my parents, it was year 99,” said Edison Suasnavas.
Originally from Ecuador, Suasnavas has called Utah home for most of his life. He went to school here, met and married the love of his life and started a family here.
“I always decided to follow what my heart would tell me,” Suasnavas said.
He followed his passion for biology and got a master’s degree from Utah State University. Edison now works to detect genetic mutations in cancer patients.
“I try to save a life by providing an early diagnosis for them,” he added. “That has been a life-changing experience because I feel like by doing that I have been able to contribute back to what this country has given me.”
It’s why the Supreme Court’s decision to block the Trump Administration from ending the Obama Administration’s DACA program means so much to Suasnavas and his family.
“I wasn’t able to work before DACA,” he said, explaining that he was preparing for the opposite decision. “They told me 90% they were going to take it away, so I still feel like I’m dreaming.”
“This decision, to me, personally means keeping families together,” said immigration attorney Jonathan Shaw.
Shaw said DACA allows undocumented youth, who qualify, to work without fear of deportation. Some of those qualifications are no felony or significant misdemeanor convictions, graduating from high school and being brought to the U.S. as children.
However, DACA does not provide a pathway to citizenship and needs to be renewed every two years. For many undocumented people, it is the only option to remain in the country.
“For 99% of the world’s population there is no line because they haven’t won life’s lottery and don’t have a U.S. citizen spouse or a brother, sister, parent who can petition for them,” Shaw said.
Thursday’s ruling allowed Suasnavas to keep living his dream, for now. The Supreme Court did leave the door open for the Trump Administration to come back with a detailed justification to end DACA.
“I hope that people can see that I deserve an opportunity to stay and keep contributing positively because my only intention is to live here in a peaceful way but also in a way, thanks to my career that the US gave me, try to save lives,” Suasnavas said.
The full list of guidelines to qualify for DACA is online.
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