When Jazmin Ramirez heard the news early Thursday that the U.S. Supreme court ruled that she and 700,000 other young undocumented immigrants would be allowed to remain in this country, she waited for someone else to tell her before she could believe it herself.
“This morning I cried, this morning I was shaking,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it. Today we won and it’s a testament to sort of years of organizing that we have done not only in Tennessee but across the country. And it really shows the power that undocumented youth have when we organize, and we lift our voices.”
In a 5-4 ruling, justices decided that it was unlawful for President Donald Trump to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, more commonly known as DACA. The Obama-era program allows recipients and their families an opportunity to temporarily work and be protected from deportation.
Ramirez, now 25, began organizing around the issue as a student at Glencliff High School in Nashville after finding out she was undocumented. She went on to get her bachelor’s degree from Trevecca Nazarene University and today, she says, she’s celebrating and feeling relief after weeks of anxiety over the impending court decision.
Educators across the region also responded to the ruling.
“We are encouraged by this decision,” reads a statement from Cumberland University President Paul Stumb. “Our DACA students are some of the best and brightest and are under a tremendous amount of pressure to build better futures for themselves and their families. I’m thankful these students can now breathe a sigh of relief and continue to follow their American dream.”
As this moment sinks in today I am thinking about our countless @MetroSchools graduates who have DACA and who are working in our city – including as teachers, social workers, and more in our very own district. What a big day for them and their families. 🦋#Dreamers
— Gini Pupo-Walker está en casa 🏡 (@ginipupo) June 18, 2020
With a more conservative leaning Supreme Court, this was not the ruling many thought the DACA would receive.
Berencie Oliva, 22, says she couldn’t sleep last night as she thought about the impact the ruling would have on the life she’s just starting after graduating from college.
She was overwhelmed with emotion as she went to talk to her mother.
“I had my eyes very, very full of tears. So when I walked in her room she just said, ‘What’s going on?’ I think she didn’t understand fully what I was trying to say thorough my voice breaking,” Oliva says. “But at some point she was able to fully understand. And she just hugged me and we embraced each other and we cried. It’s a very emotional day.”
Oliva says knowing the ruling allows her to focus on dreaming and working on her life beyond school.
The Nashville-based Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights said the decision reaffirmed the voices of immigrant youth.
“Immigrant youth organized tirelessly to win protections through DACA and to defend the program against repeated attacks. Immigrant youth in Tennessee have shown that when we organize we can win,” writes TIRRC Co-Director Stephanie Teatro. “Today’s ruling provides critical relief for DACA recipients and their families who have been living with immense uncertainty waiting for today’s decision. We know the fight to protect DACA doesn’t end today. We’ll keep fighting to protect the program and to win relief for all immigrants in Tennessee.”