By Nayeli Espinoza Pena
Perla Domingo, biology major and freshman, is one of around 100 Trevecca students trying to prepare herself mentally for an anticipated Supreme Court ruling on whether she can stay in the country.
DACA, or Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program started by President Barack Obama in 2012 that allows for individuals who were brought to the United States as children. On September 5th, 2017 President Donald Trump’s administration announced their plans to end the program. After a district court judge’s ruling that DACA remains in place as litigations proceed. DACA recipients have been in legal limbo ever since.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected in the spring, but the latest would be June.
Domingo’s escape right now is just keeping herself busy with school, work and taking a long way home to let herself breathe. Domingo says that because DACA recipients have been in limbo for so long, all she can do is wait and worry about school until then.
Domingo came into the United States at five-months-old. Her mom, while still being pregnant with Domingo, was receiving death threats so after she was born, they decided to move here.
It has been 18 years since then and Domingo is now one of 800,000 DACA recipients nation-wide.
It was a hard decision for Domingo to decide to come to a higher education institution after President Trump attempted to end DACA. It would have put her family into debt, and the only way she’s able to afford school now is because of her Equal Chance Education scholarship. Domingo didn’t want to let Trump’s decision stop her from pursuing better education.
“The decision can literally pause my life or help it continue to move forward.”
Sara Hopkins, director of counseling services, says the counseling center on campus is working to support thes students.
“Part of that would be that we have an understanding of the potential effect of that,” Hopkins said. “Even just simple things for my counselors like, do you know what it means to be a DACA student.”
The counselors try to be what Hopkins described as culturally competent. The counseling center does training around cultural competence issues.
Domingo says there is a lot of macho culture in her Latinx community that prevents students from asking for help.
“Most of our parents were born in a generation where they had to do everything for themselves,” Domingo said. “It’s a barrier because they weren’t taught to ask for help and that’s what they expect us to do as well.”
Hopkins said that stigmas, like machismo in the Latinx community, are present but the counseling center tries hard to let all diverse communities know that the counseling center is safe.
The Trevecca counseling center does not ask students if they have DACA or not. The counseling center will only talk about it if the students decide to share it first.
The American Psychological Association called on President Trump on August 31, 2017, five days before Trump ordered the end of DACA, to protect the program. In 1998, APA presented a Resolution on Immigrant Children, Youth and Families. They talked about how these communities of immigrants ‘experience unique stresses, prejudice
and poverty and can be considered atrisk populations for health, emotional
and behavioral problems.’
Hopkins gets emotional when talking about what the effect on Trevecca’s community might be.
“I think that the risk of that is that we lose this really beautiful part of what makes us who we are,” Hopkins said. “I feel really proud to go to other universities and say this is a huge part of who Trevecca is.”