“It’s been a rough day,” Graciela Nuñez kept repeating.

She was coleading a rally to support DACA recipients in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Seattle Tuesday — a day when fear, anxiety and hope were all on display as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether President Donald Trump acted properly in attempting to end the program for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Among the dozens gathered on the courthouse steps were DACA recipients themselves, including Nuñez, a 24-year-old who works as a Teamsters organizer.

“My entire future is in the hands of nine people,” she said in an interview before the rally. “It’s really scary.”

When former President Barack Obama launched DACA, she recalled, she saw it as a “placeholder,” offering young people temporary status before some kind of permanent solution came into being. Now, she said, she feels vulnerable because of all the information about herself and her parents she submitted as part of her DACA application. And she worries that she might be sent back to Venezuela, which she believes would be a “disaster” because of the political turmoil there. She was 7 when she left with her parents for the U.S.

Also at the rally was DACA recipient Paúl Quiñonez Figueroa. The Supreme Court ruling, expected around June next year, will offer some certainty, said the 25-year-old, who works in external affairs for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We’ve all been kind of living on the edge.”

Even if the Supreme Court upholds Trump’s ending of DACA, Figueroa said, he’s hopeful that the justices will make a limited ruling — upholding the president’s actions without determining that the program itself is unconstitutional. That would leave future presidents free to reinstate DACA, he said.


Whatever you think the Supreme Court might do, it’s important that DACA recipients renew their status, Jorge Barón, executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, told the crowd. The program requires a renewal every two years in order to live and work in the U.S. legally.

A renewal is likely to buy DACA recipients more time should the program end, Barón said.

Meanwhile, some locals went to Washington, D.C., to weigh in on the Supreme Court’s deliberations.

Microsoft, which has more than 60 employees protected by DACA, is a plaintiff in one of the three cases argued Tuesday. Nineteen of the company’s Dreamers were in D.C., along with Microsoft’s President Brad Smith.

“Any tech company at the end of the day is only as good as the people it has working on it,” Smith said in an interview. “We require a world-class team.”

This was Microsoft’s fifth appearance in front of the Supreme Court, but it’s a departure from previous cases primarily involving business issues. “This case was different from others because this was the one case in which we stood up for employees,” he said.

In a brief filed to the Supreme Court, 143 companies — including Amazon, Starbucks and Google — said replacing its workers who are DACA recipients would cost more than $6 billion. 

Seattle Times reporter Keerthi Vedantam contributed to this report.