DACA termination no surprise but still a shock for young adults who’ll be impacted

By Gary Walker

Carlos Arreola was not surprised to hear the Trump administration will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Obama’s 2012 executive order that shields immigrant youth brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.

“This was inevitable. I knew this was going to come,” said Arreola, a constituent services administrator for Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose district includes Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey.

A Cal State L.A. student brought to the U.S. from Mexico when he was three years old, Arreola is one of nearly 800,000 young adults nationwide and 223,000 in California who has been granted deportation relief and the right to work under DACA.

He has at least two relatives also impacted by the program’s impending demise after a six-month grace period, during which Trump has asked Congress to develop new federal immigration policies.

“I woke up to a lot of phone calls [on Tuesday]. People are afraid, because now there’s uncertainty,” he said.

But Arreola is determined to not give up hope.

“I work for someone who supports me as a person and who believes in me, so I‘m not going to cower and hide,” he said. “This is the time to show our strength.”

Venice High School student Mireya Curiel was in class when she learned of the administration’s plans to end DACA, a decision that will impact her cousins.

“I thought, ‘I can’t believe that this has happened.’ All the lives of people that are going to change,” said Curiel, president of Venice High’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx a de Aztlán (MEChA) Club. “The government has all the information of these undocumented people, and some might think they’re going to use it against them.”

Congressman Ted Lieu, a vocal Trump critic who represents Westside neighborhoods, reflected personal experience in his denunciation of the decision to eventually end DACA.

“As an immigrant to the United States brought here when I was three years old, I know that our nation’s embrace of immigrants is what makes it great. Trump’s cowardly decision to end DACA goes against the very forces that have made America an exceptional country,” Lieu said in a statement.  “Deporting hundreds of thousands of Asians and Latinos — nearly half of whom were brought to the U.S. before the age of seven — is not only cruel, it will hurt our economy. I call on [House of Representatives] Speaker [Paul] Ryan to work with Democrats to extend the DACA program through legislation.”

Arreola worries that the lingering fear of deportation could lead others in his situation — the vast majority of whom are educated and employed, according to government statistics — to rethink their futures.

“Some might give up on their hopes and dreams,” he said.