In 2008, after Maggie Loredo graduated from high school with top grades, she soon realized that financial aid and scholarships were out of her reach. Though Loredo grew up in Texas and Georgia, she was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, coming to the United States with her family at age two. As a still-undocumented immigrant, she felt her dreams of going to college come crashing down. Feeling powerless and fearing the threat of deportation, Loredo returned to Mexico.
In 2012, the Obama administration introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA, which permitted some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors to receive work permits and renewal relief from deportation.
If Loredo had remained in the United States, she would have been eligible. “When [Obama] announced DACA, it was such a bittersweet moment, knowing that if I had stayed, I would have qualified,” says Loredo. “But then, as the years went by, I knew that DACA wasn’t enough, that it was just a Band-Aid for a larger wound. It made me realize that at the end of the day, it still failed to give us full rights and people are still being criminalized. It was still creating the good versus the bad, the deserving versus the undeserving immigrant.”
Now 28, Loredo is the co-founder and co-director of Otros Dreams en Acción (ODA), a local organization founded in late 2015 that supports and works with deported and returning immigrant youth, many of whom, like Loredo, have no memory of living in Mexico. ODA is part of a growing network of immigrants’-rights activist groups in Mexico, but the group stands out because three of its most senior leaders — Claudia Amaro, Jill Anderson, and Maggie Loredo — are women.
Last week, the US House of Representatives voted on two immigration bills: a conservative one that will make deeper cuts to legal immigration and will not offer citizenship for the estimated 800,000 DREAMers, and a “compromise” one that will offer a path to citizenship for DACA recipients based on merit, direct billions of dollars to build a southern border wall, and make asylum and legal immigration much harder. However, if any of these bills pass, it will be solely on Republican votes, as Democrats have called these bills “nonstarters.” In 2017, the Trump administration successfully ended the DACA program for any new applicants, but the Supreme Court’s delayed ruling earlier this year means that current DACA recipients can apply for renewal. On Friday, the House rejected the conservative immigration bill, and it is set to vote on the compromise bill later this week.
While DACA remains in limbo on Capitol Hill, the Trump administration continues to push hostile immigration policies. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced a zero-tolerance policy, ordering prosecutors to pursue charges against people who cross the US-Mexico border illegally. Facing prosecution, parents are now needlessly separated from their children at the border, and these children are shipped to detention centers, viewed as unaccompanied minors by the federal government. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Trump administration separated more than 2,000 children from their parents at the border between April 19 and last Tuesday. Trump overturned forced family separation last Wednesday with an executive order after international outrage from the media, activists, citizens, and world leaders. It means, for now, families will be kept in detention centers as a unit during prosecuting, though it violates the law of limitations placed on how long children can be detained. Sessions also recently announced that domestic abuse and gang-related violence would no longer be reason to grant people asylum.