Future is uncertain for Arizona DACA recipients after recent ruling

A Texas federal judge recently ruled that the DACA program was illegal. The order has left some Arizona DACA recipients with an uncertain future.

PHOENIX – They say tomorrow is not guaranteed and that for people who were unlawfully brought to the United States as children and protected under the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals, every day is a heartbreaking fear of eviction.

For the nearly 650,000 DACA beneficiaries, there is a common denominator; it is the only country they know.

In the vast majority of cases, they were brought to the United States as young children and considered themselves Americans most of their lives.

It wasn’t until they started driving and applying to college that they discovered their immigrant status and the limitations it entailed.

In 2012, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order allowing certain people without legal status in the United States to benefit from a two-year renewable deportation deferral period and become eligible. to a work permit.

After surviving countless lawsuits and a Supreme Court ruling, the program faces a new challenge again after Texas Federal Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the program from moving forward, deeming that it had been created illegally.

This decision prevented the Department of Homeland Security from processing new DACA requests.

RELATED: ‘A Sounding Siren’ For Democrats After Decision Suspended DACA

The battle for DACA continues

“It was a punch,” said José Patino, DACA recipient and policy director of Aliento, a non-profit organization that supports undocumented migrants.

Hanen’s decision fell on Friday afternoon. Patino’s weekend plans immediately changed.

Patino began to prepare to explain to the thousands of students he works with on a daily basis and help navigate DACA applications that their future is uncertain again.

“There was a lot of frustration because people were planning to get their first job, their driver’s license, to start this life that they wanted to have, but that was no longer an option at the time,” Patino said.

It has been nine years since the DACA program was established and over the years it has been a roller coaster of emotions for the recipients.

For Patino, it gave him a practice he wished he hadn’t, of dropping everything and getting up to speed quickly to pass this valuable information on to his immigrant community.

“It can be very difficult when you have all these hopes and dreams and plans and all are waiting because [those] don’t just rely on yourself, but also on your family, ”Patino said.

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What is DACA?

The DACA program is a temporary protection against deportation that does not grant legal status or a path to citizenship.

It allows beneficiaries to apply for a driver’s license, a social security number and a work permit.

Every two years, DACA beneficiaries must renew their status.

Applicants must meet the following main DACA requirements:

  • Entered the United States illegally before their 16th birthday
  • Have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007
  • were under 31 on June 15, 2012 (born June 16, 1981 or later)
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time of making their request for a review of a deferred action with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Did not have legal status as of June 15, 2012
  • Have completed high school or a GED, have been honorably demobilized from the armed forces or be enrolled in school
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and not otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety

Immigrants up to the age of 31 can apply for the protections and opportunities offered by this program.

RELATED: Biden Vows to Appeal DACA’s ‘Deeply Disappointing’ Decision

Live in uncertainty

Since DACA is just a policy note, it offers no permanent solution to recipients who are denied their protections every two years.

“It’s hard to live in two-year increments,” Patino said. “Especially where there are so many lawsuits. “

Judge Hanen’s ruling on Friday does not affect DACA renewals, but since only Congress can come up with a permanent solution, it can still take action and decide that recipients like Patino can no longer renew.

“All of this just creates more anxiety and stress,” Patino said.

After the decision, Aliento is focusing on the mental health of DACA recipients, as Arizona is currently home to more than 23,000 dreamers.

According to government figures, 90% of DACA beneficiaries are employed through the program. A study found that they contribute nearly $ 42 billion a year to the US economy.

“We’re hoping Congress is actually taking action, rather than waiting for Judge Hanen to make another ruling that could potentially put people like me at risk,” Patino said.

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