Following a Texas federal judge ruling late last week, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, thousands of Coloradans are facing uncertainty — again — about their legal status in the United States.
The Biden administration said it plans to appeal Friday’s decision, which would require the federal government to stop processing new applications for the DACA program, which helps immigrants whose families see them as young children. were brought to the United States in the United States, temporarily escape deportation and become eligible for work permits and Social Security. numbers.
The latest court ruling left immigration lawyers to figure out how to best help clients planning to apply for DACA. Current DACA recipients — people like Estefanie Pea Figueroa, 25, who says she feels she’s been on a “roller coaster” since 2017 — worry what this could mean for the long-term of the program. And advocates say it is time for a permanent solution.
“There are many other students like me,” said Pea Figueroa.
Obama-era policy preserved 18,555 Coloradans as of March 2020But its existence has been threatened by legal challenges, including after it began in 2012 and when the Trump administration worked to end it in 2017. ruling That comes from a 2018 lawsuit filed by the attorney general of Texas and other states.
“The court clearly observed that this program is against the law,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a written statement Monday. “This lawsuit was about the rule of law—not the rationale behind any immigration policy. The district court held that only Congress has authority to write immigration laws, and the president is not free to disobey those duly enacted laws.” , as he deems fit.”
US District Judge Andrew S. Hannon called the program illegal because it did not comply with federal administrative regulations, but he said in his ruling that the government would not be required to take deportation-like action against any current DACA recipients or applicants.
Pea Figueroa, a graduate of the Metropolitan State University of Denver, is concerned about the implications of Hannon’s decision, despite the planned appeal.
“I don’t think I can plan for my future,” said Pea Figueroa, who works at her alma mater in immigration services, which helps other people in the US without legal permission. “I’m thinking about doing a master’s program but it seems like I can never do it because I have to wait those two years and then hope I can actually renew my DACA, but It’s not something I can plan on long-term because of DACA.”
When Pea Figueroa first applied for DACA, she had a common concern: that she might put her family in danger. She eventually applied at the insistence of her mother and a friend, but the process was not easy or cheap.
Eighteen-year-old Karen Lizzette Lozano of Breckenridge was approved for DACA just two weeks ago. It was a nearly four-year wait, as she prepared to block the program for former President Donald Trump on his 15th birthday in September 2017 (the US Supreme Court upheld the DACA program last year).
Her family moved her to the US from Mexico when she was only three months old. She is now a Summit High School alumnus who has just received a work permit and has a full-ride scholarship to college.
“I’m grateful for that,” she said of her new position, “but I’m still afraid that one day, like, something’s going to happen, because we don’t have anything permanent and I’m still going to take it. I can.”
Immigration advocacy groups called Friday’s decision devastating and one that harms not only themselves but the entire country.
Denver immigration attorney Katherine Chan said it appears applications already processed by Friday’s decision will still be accepted, but not for other first-time applicants.
The ruling came as no surprise to Chan, saying it could serve as an impetus for Congress to include a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country without documentation.
“I’m a little more realistic than optimistic about Congress acting,” Chan said, noting that immigration is a politically divisive issue. Also, the Biden administration has issued what Chan sees as talking points about immigration, but there has been little action.
The bipartisan political immigration advocacy group FWD.us called on Congress to act immediately, saying it was the only solution. But Congress has failed to pass the DREAM Act at least 16 times, said University of Colorado Boulder law school professor Violet Chapin, which oversees its immigration clinic.
“In my opinion, it is truly shameful that it results in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, essentially refusing to compromise by the judiciary and members of Congress,” Chapin said.
Chapin said several judges, including Biden and even President Barack Obama, who created the policy, have said DACA is not a permanent solution because it does not grant legal status to young immigrants.
Chan, Chapin and other immigration attorneys will have to look for other ways to help clients obtain legal status, but the options are limited.
Colorado passed legislation this year to help immigrants who are living here without documentation receive public benefits and avoid potential deportation after obtaining a driver’s license, but Chapin said Only a federal solution can provide a path to citizenship.