Bay Area 'dreamers' breathe a sigh of relief

Dreamers are breathing a sigh of relief following the Supreme Court’s ruling on DACA, including one man in San Francisco who said the program changed his life.

Jose Garcia, 24, of San Francisco said it was a special morning when he learned the Supreme Court had ruled to keep the DACA program in place, for now.

“I woke up this morning with a dozen texts, he said. “The first person I obviously called was my mom.”

He said the two had a heartfelt conversation. They feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.

“It was a relief for her and obviously it's a relief for me and thousands of others,” Garcia said. “Just the sound in her voice, the relief that I'd be here longer, we wouldn't have to worry about what comes next… it was profound.”

Garcia said his mom, Celindabeth, has worried about his legal status. Garcia was born in Mexico and was brought to San Diego when he was 5 years old. He has two older sisters who are U.S. citizens. Garcia said the DACA program allowed him to attend college and graduate from UC Davis with a degree in political science. He now works with the Latino Community Foundation, on the Communications team.

“I'm one of the 25,000 DACA recipients working in the non-profit sector,” he said. “We're here advocating for the rights of workers, immigrants, undocumented people.”

Another Dreamer, Adrian Escarate, spoke to KTVU via Zoom about his reaction to the ruling. He said there is a group of about 50 Dreamers on Twitter who were messaging words of support to each other before the ruling came down.

“Deep down inside I had thought the decision was going to be a really close decision, a 5-4 decision,” Escarate said. “I just didn’t want to say it to anybody because I didn’t want to jinx it and get my hopes up.”

Escarate was born in Santiago, Chile and came to the U.S. when he was 3 years old. His family moved to Miami, Florida and by the time Escarate was in college, he was working on immigration advocacy. He currently works as a Communications Director for Define American, an immigrant justice organization.

“It’s been an amazing program, but it was always a Band-Aid solution,” he said of DACA. “We’re living our lives two years at a time. You couldn’t plan. You couldn’t have a five year plan. You couldn’t have a 10 year plan. You had to renew every two years.”

Escarate and Garcia each said they are enjoying the win, but the fight continues for Congress to pass a permanent solution.

“It's a small victory, but the battle doesn't end here,” Garcia said. “We have to continue fighting and championing the rights of DACA recipients undocumented workers.”

Both men want to see protections for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., many of who have put their lives at risk as frontline workers during the pandemic.