Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA last week, leaving students across the country frightened and uncertain about the future.
For students at Texas, the realization that friends, family or themselves might lose their ability to stay in the U.S. has student organizations such as UT League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC, speaking up for change.
“You can definitely feel the anxiety amongst our fellow friends who are DACA recipients and among us who aren’t but care deeply about them,” said Neil Hernandez, the organization’s president and a government senior.
For Hernandez and many others in UT LULAC, the repeal of DACA is a personal matter.
“Many people are not directly impacted, but these are people we go to class with, people we grew up with,” Hernandez said.
Rey Castillo, secretary of UT LULAC and a communication and leadership sophomore, said it is unfair for DACA recipients’ efforts in the U.S. and their economic impact to go unrecognized.
“I am not a DACA recipient, but I do know people and have friends that are, and they deserve the opportunity to be here as much as I do,” Castillo said. “For someone to try to downplay that and say this program is not doing a great deal for the U.S. is a shame.”
On campus, Hernandez said there has definitely been an increase in students reaching out to his organization for support and direction to resources, such as the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center for emotional support and the University Leadership Initiative for legal inquiries.
UT LULAC vice president Kristen Gonzales, a public relations and Mexican American studies senior, said such resources are especially critical for current DACA students. Her main concerns about the act’s repeal revolve around academic and economic issues, since DACA recipients depend on their permits to work and support their families.
“Amongst DACA students it has definitely affected their experience on campus and how they are here,” Gonzales said.
If there’s any silver lining to this situation, Gonzales said it’s the increased awareness of these issues and that more students and citizens nationwide are becoming involved in with immigration causes.
“As I am hearing more about it in my classes (and) word spreads, I think it will be more of a community impact and there will be more solidarity,” Gonzales said.
Meanwhile, Gonzales said she hopes the discussion continues to grow over the next six months as students unite in the fight for immigrant rights.
“In the past, with decisions like this, students get really energized and active and then it begins to die down,” Gonzales said. “I hope this doesn’t come in a wave.”