What is DACA’s future after a federal judge ruled the program illegal?

On July 16, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled DACA illegal in Texas v. United States. This means there is an indefinite hold on new applications for young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The decision is shocking for most Americans, as DACA survived Trump’s presidency and his efforts to dismantle the program.

What does this mean for DACA recipients? 

Created in 2012 during the Obama administration, DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects around 690,000 young immigrants known as  Dreamers from deportation. It grants them work authorization, access to scholarships and financial aid, as well as the opportunity to obtain a drivers license. Judge Hanen’s decision does not affect people already enrolled, but it does pause new applications and leaves children brought to the United States unprotected.

What has happened since the ruling?

President Joe Biden says he is “disappointed” and he will appeal the latest ruling. However, he expresses the need for Congress to take the case, as that would be the only path for fair and permanent legislation that can protect Dreamers.

Almost 100 CEOs of top American companies penned a letter to President Biden addressing the latest ruling on DACA. According to Bloomberg’s report, the letter asks Biden’s administration to work on this matter, working hand to hand with Congress and find a solution to protect and give dreamers a pathway to citizenship.

Dreamers in the Olympics

Luis Grijalva, 22, was invited to participate in the Guatemalan Olympic team, but the latest DACA ruling almost cost him his participation in the Olympics. As a DACA recipient, Grijalva is not allowed to travel outside the country, only on special exemptions. Grijalva is one good example of the limitations that the U.S. immigration system sets on talented individuals. Fortunately, Grijalva was able to get his permit – and accomplished his dream in Tokyo. He shared his story on Instagram –  “DACA takes away my freedom of ever leaving the country and being able to come back in.”

What are the next steps?

As much as Americans support DACA, the reality is that it is a band-aid and not a real solution. Dreamers aim for a permanent solution: a path to citizenship. This will only be possible if congress works on the legislation, and republicans – or at least a portion of them support a reform.

Democrats’ stand is to work on a path to citizenship for a larger group of immigrants including Dreamers, those who are too young to qualify for DACA, farmworkers who haven’t been able to get legal status, and other essential workers brought by the pandemic. The group could be up to six million people, according to Democrats.

What can you do to support DACA?

If you are a DACA supporter, it is our time to get united and raise our voices. 

Here are some resources: 

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