Wednesday, May 22, 2024

After years of uncertainty DACA recipients finally heading to Oxford with Rhodes Scholarship

The first DREAMer to be awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship will attend the University of Oxford after years of uncertainty about whether the U.S. would allow him to return home as a DACA recipient.

Last week, Federal immigration officials approved Jin Park’s application to travel to England in the coming weeks. Park, whose family migrated from South Korea when he was 7 years old, will be joined at Oxford by Santiago Potes, a Miami resident and graduate of Columbia University in New York who became the second DACA recipient to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship last November.

Elliot Gerson, the American secretary for the British organization, which is helping prepare the visas for the two incoming students stated, “We are thrilled that two DACA Rhodes Scholars will be heading to Oxford next month to start their courses, finally knowing they can safely and legally return after their studies to the only homes they know.”

There has been a legal battle for years but last June, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Trump administration didn’t take the proper steps to end the DACA program, thus, rejected Trump’s arguments that the program is illegal. Later that year, the Trump administration fully restored the DACA program.

Since taking office this year, President Biden has called on the Congress to pass legislation codifying DACA and has also proposed to give DREAMers and other immigrants a pathway to citizenship. However, last month a federal judge in Texas ruled the program illegal, omitting the government from approving any new applications, but leaving the program intact for existing recipients.

Park, an active advocate for DACA recipients since he was in high school, had applied for the scholarship as part of a broader effort to demonstrate how DACA recipients didn’t qualify for the venerated award and others like it. The effort led the Rhodes organization to expand eligibility for the scholarship.