ESCONDIDO – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients last week in a landmark victory for the 40,000 DACA recipients that live in San Diego County.
The Trump administration’s bid to end legal protections for DACA recipients would have affected more than 650,000 immigrants that were brought to the U.S. as children.
DACA recipients, or “dreamers,” celebrated countywide after the decision was announced on June 18. A rally was held in front of the San Diego County Administration Building with participants holding signs that read “here to stay” and “home is here.”
Dr. Michelle Ramos Pellicia, an associate professor of Hispanic Linguistics at Cal State San Marcos and the co-founder and co-chair of the University Without Borders collective, told The Coast News that the impact of this decision goes beyond immigration status.
“We’re talking about the lives of 700,000 DACA recipients in the country,” Pellicia said. “Roughly 30,000 DACA recipients are healthcare workers in the U.S., these are people who are working on the frontlines of COVID-19. Now these people won’t be living in fear of deportation.”
Pellicia added that there is still more work to be done because there is a possibility that the Trump administration will continue to fight the ruling.
“We as a community need to stand up for each other,” Pellicia said. “Whenever I talk about my students and community, I’m always thinking that our home is here. Regardless of your immigration status, you’re building your home here and you’re contributing to society here.”
Escondido, with a population of more than 152,000, has one of the largest Hispanic populations in the county. More than 50% of the city’s population is either Hispanic or Latino, and a significant portion of that population is undocumented.
It is widely perceived, however, that Escondido has not been an immigrant-friendly city in the past, despite its large Hispanic population.
Most notable in Escondido’s history with immigration was the police’s years-long working relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or when Escondido joined a federal lawsuit that sought to overturn California’s immigrant sanctuary laws in 2018.
Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara reacted to the ruling and spoke to Escondido’s past, which he says is not its future.
“I’m very pleased with the Supreme Court ruling, honestly I don’t know you could come to any other conclusion,” McNamara said. “In my mind, everyone is welcome in Escondido. These DACA recipients—this is their home. They’re a big part of this community and this economy, and it would be unfair to take that away from them.”
McNamara said he is proud of the Hispanic population in Escondido and said it’s something that should be celebrated.
“Before I became mayor, members of the previous council viewed the Latino population as a problem, I view it as something we should celebrate,” McNamara said. “When I think of Latino culture, I think of values like family and community, so why wouldn’t you want your children to be exposed to those values.”