Dreamers head back to school facing fears about DACA’s future

For Enrique Ramirez, the last week of August was supposed to mark a new beginning.

He moved from his brick Quincy House dorm on Harvard University’s campus into an apartment he shares with his sister not far from the University of Texas Law School, where he plans to study immigration law. He bought his books and attended orientation.

And then Hurricane Harvey arrived. Ramirez and his family watched from his apartment living room in Austin as the streets of his hometown in Dickinson, Texas, overflowed with dirty brown water.

“We were watching the Weather Channel, and we recognized my cousins and family getting rescued,” he said.

As he worried about whether his family’s home would be washed away by the floods, another concern grew from news in Washington: Could he be deported?

For students like Ramirez, so-called Dreamers, with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, who grew up in the United States, the beginning of this school year has been marked by concerns they could lose their protected status and ability to work.

On Friday the White House said an announcement will be made on Tuesday about whether the administration will end DACA, the Obama-era immigration policy that lets young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents before 2012 apply for a renewable two-year permit, allowing them to come out of the shadows to obtain work permits, attend college and defer action on deportation.

“It’s been a very rough week for my family,” Ramirez said. “It’s pretty scary. Without DACA, I could be at the risk of deportation at all times. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been going through law school orientation.”

On the other side of campus, Vanessa Rodriguez, a 19-year-old at the University of Texas, said DACA was the first thing she thought about on the first day of her sophomore year.

“With everything going on about DACA in the air, I woke up early and called a friend,” she said. She hadn’t yet bought books on John Locke, James Madison and the Federalist Papers for her constitutional principles class.

“When there is something so large that you can’t control, it’s almost like you have to pay attention more to that compared to something small like ordering books for class,” she said. “What does this mean for me continuing my studies at UT?”

Since then-President Barack Obama announced the DACA program in 2012, roughly 800,000 young people have registered to receive DACA status. Most of those…

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