A federal judge recently blocked the Biden administration from processing new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), putting the lives of young immigrants in jeopardy as the program policy winds its way through the courts.
DACA provides work permits and other benefits to immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, and also protects them from deportation due to a lack of documentation. Over 600,000 immigrants are affected by DACA, and although the ruling does not change the status of those who already receive DACA benefits, the court case sent a ripple of fear through all immigrants.
DACA has bipartisan support, although the ruling was expected by those who followed former President Trump’s policies regarding immigrants and refugees. The twice-impeached former President spoke out explicitly against people immigrating to the United States, going so far as to saying he did not want refugees from “s—hole countries” in America.
Mr. Trump even had a policy separating immigrant and refugee children from their parents, leaving families at the southern border of the United States while they waited weeks or months for courts to address their refugee claims.
The DACA ruling puts more pressure on politicians to find more long-term solutions for a pathway of citizenship for immigrants and refugees, many of whom face questions about their ability to live and work in the United States. For some politicians, the ruling represents the necessity of finding a permanent fix for citizenship reform.
The ruling was “not a surprise, just a painful reminder that we need to stop relying on temporary immigration fixes,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who supports citizenship reform, in a Twitter post. “Congress must seize the moment and any and all opportunities to finally provide a pathway to legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants.”
One anonymous DACA applicant, identified only by a first name, expressed frustration and fear over the recent ruling. Their application to DACA will not be processed under the recent ruling. “All we want to do is work, study, and do right by this country. It’s unfair. I was so excited to be a step closer and I feel like they’ve put a stop to my world.”
The Biden administration is expected to appeal the decision in federal court.