Court Ruling Finds DACA Illegal, But Program Isn’t Ended: 4 Things You Should Know

Current and former DACA recipients said Thursday that they “feel a sense of déjà vu” after a federal judge in Texas ruled again against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides benefits to eligible undocumented young adults who arrived as children came to the USA and was allowed to work and study without fear of deportation.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled Wednesday night that the Biden administration’s recent efforts to convert the Obama-era program into a Federal regulation were illegal.

The ruling is “deeply troubling,” said Areli Hernandez, a longtime DACA recipient from Los Angeles and executive director of the immigrant rights organization CHIRLAsaid at a news conference Thursday organized by several immigrant and civil rights groups.

Former DACA recipient Bruna Sollod, senior policy director at We dream togetherthe country’s largest immigrant-led youth organization, said: “Imagine hundreds of thousands of young people who now have jobs, mortgages, car payments, small businesses and customers who depend on them.” This has a huge impact on the economy and communities across the country.”

“I don’t know what else we need to say to make it clear to elected officials and the Biden administration the threat we face,” Sollod said.

The program’s fate is still uncertain as the six-year court battle continues to play out in court following legal challenges from the Trump administration and nine Republican-led states seeking to repeal DACA entirely.

Here are four important things to know about who is affected and what is at stake.

Does this actually mean DACA is illegal?

Technically speaking, yes. But that doesn’t mean DACA is over.

While the approximately 580,000 current recipients can continue to renew their DACA status every two years; the program is closed to new applicants.

Although Hanen, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2002, has repeatedly declared DACA illegal, he has refrained from repealing it entirely.

The latest ruling “continues to allow DACA recipients to file extension applications while the case is under appeal,” said Andrea Senteno, regional counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, better known as MALDEF.

Since 2018, MALDEF has represented 22 DACA recipients in the lawsuit brought by the Republican-led states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

Along with attorneys for the federal government and New Jersey, MALDEF has argued that the states “failed to demonstrate harm from implementing DACA and that the initiative is a lawful exercise of presidential discretion,” Senteno said.

In 2020 the The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Trump administration unlawfully ended DACA in 2017, allowing it to remain in place.

Will DACA recipients lose their status?

They will not lose their status as long as they continue to renew their DACA on time.

Current recipients or those whose DACA status expired less than a year ago can still be extended it every two years. Those who miss the extension window can only reapply as new applicants – but that is not currently allowed.

“Sometimes people drop out of DACA status because they don’t renew on time for financial reasons or because they don’t have access to the right legal resources,” Hernandez said. “Unfortunately, this decision by Judge Hanen also impacts those who were unable to renew their DACA in a timely manner.”

Who is left out?

An estimated 400,000 people who would have been eligible for the first time have not had access to DACA since 2021, according to an analysis FWD.usa bipartisan group that supports immigration reform.

The 400,000 people excluded from the DACA program include almost 93,000 First-time applicants who have been pending for the past two years. You had submitted and paid the necessary documents required fee of $495 to apply for the program just before Hanen closed it to new applicants.

Since DACA began in 2012, recipients have been contributed It says $108 billion for the economy and $33 billion in total taxes

“It strengthens our economy, our communities and gives people who came as children the opportunity to work, study, live their lives and support their families,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, the immigration organization’s executive director America’s voice.

An overwhelming majority of DACA recipients were born in Mexico, followed by other Latin American countries U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A smaller but significant number come from Asian countries such as the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Indonesia.

What happens next?

Hanen’s ruling will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, putting DACA on trial for the third time.

As of Thursday afternoon, MALDEF did not have a timeline for the appeal process. Senteno said it is “reviewing the decision closely and preparing and discussing next steps,” along with federal government lawyers and those representing plaintiffs in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, DACA recipients and immigrant rights advocates continue to push for a path to citizenship.

“We need a lasting solution that recognizes our humanity, our roots and our contributions to this nation,” Hernandez said.

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., introduced The invoice In July, more than 8 million non-citizens could be granted permanent residency or a green card by updating a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act known as the registry. This would allow immigrants who have beenat least 7 years“to apply for a permanent residence permit.

A House version of the bill was introduced this year.

Glo Choi, a community organizer at HANA Centera nonprofit group that advocates for Korean, Asian American and immigrant communities said it believes the bills are the best option for providing legal status to DACA recipients and other types of undocumented immigrants.

“We believe that we all deserve to live freely and with dignity in the place we call home,” Choi said.

A Bill re-introduced by Rep. Sylvia GarciaD-Texas, in June, seeks to provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and other immigrants with other types of immigration protections.

Versions of the bill were passed in the House last year and in 2021, Cárdenas said, adding he could pass it again if at least nine Republicans, along with Democrats, supported it.

Proponents of DACA say it is one of the most successful measures to integrate immigrants. Most DACA recipients have lived in the United States for more than 16 years.

“They are no longer children. They are starting their own families and are in the middle of their careers,” Cárdenas said.

The average DACA recipient is 26 to 28 years old, said Gaby Pacheco, the Director of Advocacy, Development and Communications at TheDream.Us, an organization that helps young immigrants complete their studies.

“Those at the top of the DACA population are now in their early 40s,” Hernandez said. “And anyone in their mid to early 20s no longer has access to DACA.”

DACA recipients are also parents of more than 200,000 U.S. citizen children. Among them is Angel Reyes, a DACA recipient from Long Island and organizing coordinator at Make your way to New York.

“That’s what I think about the most,” Reyes said.

Without a permanent solution to regulate the immigration status of DACA recipients, Reyes fears he could be separated from his two U.S. citizen children. This fear reminds him of the time when he was 17 and his mother was deported to Peru.

“This was one of the most difficult moments I have experienced, if not the most difficult moment of my life,” said Reyes, who is also an entrepreneur.

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