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What DACA decision means for students today and Democrats tomorrow




Dana Herrera, 23, is student at L.A. Valley College who plans to transfer to UCLA. She lives in Panorama City and came to Downtown Los Angeles for the CHIRLA rally supporting DACA on Sept. 1, 2017.
Dana Herrera, 23, is student at L.A. Valley College who plans to transfer to UCLA. She lives in Panorama City and came to Downtown Los Angeles for the CHIRLA rally supporting DACA on Sept. 1, 2017.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

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A federal judge decided against the Trump administration Tuesday, giving renewed hope to Southern California's undocumented youth.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, allows certain young people to live and work in the U.S. legally. 

The court ruled the administration had failed to adequately explain why DACA is unlawful and gave the White House ninety days to either make a sufficient case for limiting DACA, or start accepting new applications. 

For students, today

A chance at stability 

A reinstatement of DACA would provide a much needed sigh of relief to Southern California's thousands of undocumented young people. "It means more time to invest in their education and allows them to not be detained and deported," said Abel Valenzuela, Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Immigration Policy at UCLA. "Its a a huge way for students who are in a precarious and difficult situation to find stability and that space to focus on their studies."

UCLA has been focused on educating prospective undocumented students still in high school about their scholarship and legal options, and is prepared to ramp up an awareness campaign as the future of DACA is finalized.

 

"It opens the door for a new cohort of young immigrants who have been here for many years to apply for work authorization and focus on school, securing economic stability for themselves and by extension, their families," Valenzuela said. 

UCLA is moving ahead as though the Trump the administration will be unable to justify its argument to the court. "We want to be ahead of the ball and have a process in place so that students can start taking advantage of this window."

Valenzuela is advising the undocumented students he works with to begin their end of the work; "start looking at the applications, start getting paperwork together, to be on the lookout for different workshops."

For Democrats, tomorrow

If the Trump administration cannot convince the court that the DACA rollback is justified, political scientist Louis DeSipio says that Democrats could benefit — especially in this election year. 

"I think this is an advantage for the Democrats because it keeps DACA, which is a program that's viewed very favorably by a wide swath of the electorate, including independents and Republicans, in the political debate," DeSipio said. "So in these swing districts, in the moderate districts, Democrats will be able to hammer their opponents  — particularly their incumbent opponents for the failure of the House of Representatives to come up with a legislative solution, which is what everybody sees is the real need in this area."