Although the decision by a federal judge in Texas this week declaring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program unconstitutional served as another setback for America’s 580,000 “Dreamers,” it was not unexpected. And it is far from the final word on the issue.
While the future of DACA does not look bright, the program still exists. Despite declaring DACA unconstitutional, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen did not terminate the program entirely, leaving deportation protections for Dreamers in place for now. Current DACA participants can continue renewing their two-year work permits with protection from deportation, although the program is closed to any new applicants.
So what happens next?
According to trusted national groups like FWD.US and Informed Immigrant, the case is expected to return to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals – the same court that declared DACA unconstitutional last year – where it is likely to be heard sometime between spring and fall of 2024. Following the 5th Circuit Court decision – which may or may not include halting renewals – the ruling will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Although no one knows the exact timing of further court action, the consensus is that the earliest the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on the case is in the spring of 2025. Unfortunately, the odds of DACA surviving these court challenges are increasingly low.
For that reason, among others, we again call on Congress to take action to resolve this issue legislatively once and for all. It has been more than 10 years since former President Obama announced DACA as a “stop-gap” measure amid congressional inaction that has since progressed to the point of cruelty.
Congress has neglected its duty and abandoned conventional American moral values by leaving more than half a million Dreamers in limbo for so long. While politicians spent the last decade playing political football, Dreamers have grown up and established roots here in the U.S., the only home they’ve ever really known. They’ve graduated from high schools and colleges, started careers and families, and played by the rules of our society only to be left wondering if – or when – they will be forced to abandon it all and attempt to start anew in what amounts to a foreign land.
If, as is likely, the Supreme Court ultimately rules against DACA and halts renewals, FWD.US estimates an average of 5,000 DACA recipients will lose their protections each week in the following two years as renewals are halted. That translates to 1,000 jobs lost, and an even greater number of U.S. citizens whose family members will be exposed to deportation, as American families are ripped apart each and every business day.
That is unacceptable.
The only way to avoid this moral injustice and economic catastrophe is for Congress to act. Congress must protect Dreamers with a pathway to citizenship and it must do it now. Waiting for another court decision does nothing more than extend the heartless punishment of people who simply do not deserve to be punished. Congress has the ability to resolve this crisis, and an obligation to do it today.
Voces Unidas has two international education trips scheduled for 2024. Colorado-based DACA participants looking to apply for advance parole are encouraged to apply. More information at www.vocesunidascolorado.org/cleap.