Grassroots organization holds immigration info session at Virginia Tech

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)— The Supreme Court is now hearing the case against DACA. It has left many immigrants uncertain if they will be able to have a legal way to stay in America.

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On Tuesday, a meeting was held at Virginia Tech to make sure students and community members are educated on how immigration works in the United States.

“I know if DACA is taken away, their dreams may just be shattered,” said Virginia Tech freshman Adriana Olvera.

Olvera’s family left Mexico before she was born to have a better life in America. In that time they have lived in many states to do what was best for their family.

“It’s crazy to think that so many people are privileged with these things going to school, they don't even have to think twice about it. But then there are people that can’t have a job, buy a house or a car because they’re undocumented,” Olvera said. “With my parents, those have been obstacles that they’ve always had to overcome.”

She’s one of dozens of students and community members who came out Tuesday night to learn a little more about DACA and immigration in our country. It’s an issue that has seen protests around the country ever since the Supreme Court started to hear the case last week.

“We have students here at Virginia Tech whose status may be thrown into uncertainty if this change happens to the law,” said Sarah Ovink, a professor of sociology at Virginia Tech. “It’s really hard to know how to advise students, how to advise people going about living their lives when something that you depended on might be upended at any time.”

Olvink was one of three panelists who spoke at Tuesday’s event. She shared research and stories of undocumented and DACA-mented people she has worked with over the years.

Olvink said she believes DACA was never meant to be permanent, but rather a temporary way to bridge the gap to citizenship until congress could come up with some sort of legislation.

Every two years, DACA recipients must re-file with the government and pay a $465 fee each time to keep their status, plus they must be in good standing with the law.

“If we are not providing that full and fair equality to everyone that lives within our boarders and who needs our protection and arrived here as children, then we are not living up to our promise,” Olvink said.

“They didn’t do anything wrong,” said Blacksburg immigration attorney Jeffrey Van Doren. “Their parents brought them here, when you’re five years old and you’re brought here, you don’t have a choice.”

Van Doren said it’s hard to know how to advise many of his clients until the Supreme Court makes a ruling.

“It’s really going to come down to what the court decides and if the Trump administration wins, what actions they are going to take,” Van Doren said. “People who have it now and aren’t expiring for another year or two are going to be okay, we think, but they wouldn’t be able to renew after that.”

Olvera said she has seen how DACA has helped her god brother and her cousin to have successful careers.

“I was really glad to see a room full of people out here tonight that know DACA is a big thing that will affect others in the long run,” Olvera said. “Even if DACA is taken away, hopefully there’s another process that comes in and helps.”

Van Doren said it could be at least the spring before the Supreme Court makes any decisions. During that time they will be going back and forth to come up with a written opinion to present their vote.

Tuesday’s meeting was held by the New River Valley Virginia Organizing and El Centro of Virginia Tech.

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