Friday, September 18

COVID-19 poses new challenges for DACA renewal

By Nayeli Pena Espinoza

DACA students were expecting a ruling about whether they can stay in the country from the Supreme Court to be issued between March and June.

What they weren’t expecting was for a worldwide pandemic to bring everything to a halt.

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Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services closed their offices and rescheduled all DACA renewal appointments. For students who need to renew their status, they face the possibility of losing work or being deported.

For students who were working part or full time off campus to pay for their tuition, the financial impact has been significant.

Alejandra Alegria Garcia, junior psychology major, and her family had to shut down their restaurant.

“We are going on two weeks of not selling food,” Garcia said. “We decided to close because of the possible spread.”

Garcia says her family

was ready and prepared to do what was best for their health and the health of their staff.

In addition to that, Garcia is feeling the stress of an unsure future.

“It’s been really hard to deal with the long wait on the (Supreme Court) ruling,” Garcia said. “Now I have to worry about a ruling on if I can continue work and school, but also how this pandemic will continue to affect my community.”

As the days pass Garcia said she’s growing anxious.

“I honestly do not know how to cope with it,” Garcia said. “There’s two major things that are happening in the life of us DREAMERS, and personally, I don’t know how to handle it.”

Trevecca President Dan Boone said the university is trying to continue some work for students who have jobs on campus. Boone is waiting to see how long the campus will remain closed and how quickly they’ll be able to reopen.

“The government is moving to help some, but this is where the DACA students are in the worse situation because the government is not moving to help them in any way.” Boone said.

President Donald Trump recently signed a bill to help those being affected by COVID-19, but it excludes immigrants who do not have social security cards. It also excludes individuals who are claimed as dependents on taxes, which includes college students who are financially dependent on their parents.

Boone has been focusing on keeping Trevecca operating, taking care of employees who are there keeping the online programs and admissions programs going. Boone predicts the government will probably push back the deadline for DACA renewals.

Boone is working closely with Mike Spalding, the founder of the Equal Chance for Education scholarship for DACA students, to check on families of students.

“DACA students have been top of mind for me, because they are the students that no else is figuring out how to help their families right now.” Boone said.

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