Ciriac Alvarez Valle and Alonso Reyna Rivarola stepped out of the shadows once. They don’t intend to return.
The Utah residents, both of whom were brought to this country illegally by their parents as children, say that they are encouraged by a federal appeals court ruling Thursday that will allow them to continue to have productive lives. But a U.S. Supreme Court fight may be brewing.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision against the Trump administration’s efforts to end an Obama-era program which allows young immigrants who were born outside of the U.S. to stay here legally. The Trump administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, enabled young adults like Alvarez Valle and Reyna Rivarola to work better jobs than their parents and pay their way through school. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it intended to end the program, which former President Barack Obama began in 2012.
The Trump administration has since been hit with a wave of lawsuits from multiple states challenging that effort. The case related to Thursday’s appeals court ruling was brought the regents of the University of California.
Along with Reyna Rivarola, Alvarez Valle, who has become an increasingly prominent figure for DACA recipients, said their futures depend on whether the courts will continue ruling in favor of the program. Thursday’s ruling makes Reyna Rivarola hopeful, he said.
“So hopefully we can keep that momentum going and ideally achieve a legislative solution,” Reyna Rivarola said. “I think that’s going to be the biggest thing but at this point, we just don’t know.”
Even if the program is phased out, Reyna Rivarola said they won’t stop fighting. Reyna Rivarola is the director of the University of Utah Dream Center which primarily helps children of immigrant parents navigate through higher education.
Although Alvarez Valle, who is a writer, poet and advocate for Utah children, has DACA status, her parents are still living in the country without legal permission. She recognizes the advantages she has over them because of DACA.
“When there’s an injustice when it comes to work, I can say something because I legally have the right to work here versus them," Alvarez Valle said. "They have to really work under table, in the shadows, and they don’t have that same luxury.”