McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Migrant advocates and the head of the Department of Homeland Security reacted with disappointment to a ruling Wednesday by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that sends the issue of whether DACA can remain, or not, back to a lower court.
“I am deeply disappointed by today’s DACA ruling and the ongoing uncertainty it creates for families and communities across the country. We are currently reviewing the court’s decision and will work with the Department of Justice on an appropriate legal response,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
Comments from several organizations expressed trepidation that the higher court has sent the case back to a South Texas federal judge who last year declared Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to be illegal.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are left anxiously awaiting yet another decision now from the same lower court that stopped first-time DACA applications from being accepted, that could end the program and leave us vulnerable to potential deportation,” Erika Andiola, communications director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights and a DACA recipient, said in a statement.
“Make no mistake, DACA has never been enough to protect immigrant communities long-term. But ending the program without ensuring permanent protections would be yet another cruel attack against immigrants that could have devastating consequences for DACA recipients and eligible youth,” Andiola said.
The program will temporarily continue while the case is considered again by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, of the Southern District of Texas. The 5th Circuit remanded the case back to Hanen to determine if the new DACA regulation that was recently issued by the Biden administration is unlawful. And Hanen could decide to terminate DACA.
“The good news is that those currently with DACA will continue to live and work under the protections of the program. The bad news is that DACA is hanging by a thread. The only question is when it will end — with many experts predicting the Supreme Court will declare the program unlawful and end it next year,” Sergio Gonzales, executive director of Immigration Hub, said in a statement.
“We want to be crystal clear: the only realistic way to protect the 610,000 young people with DACA is for Congress to act by the end of the year,” Gonzales said.
Since its inception during the Obama administration, over 830,000 people have gone through DACA.
American Immigration Lawyers Association President Jeremy McKinney tweeted, the ruling “struck another blow to the DACA program, as originally conceived by the Obama Administration.”
“Today marks another sad and frustrating moment for millions of Dreamers like myself seeking a permanent pathway to citizenship in the U.S., the only country most of us have ever known. Once again, we are forced to wait on edge for another court to render a decision that will determine our futures and the fate of our families,” American Business Immigration Coalition Deputy Campaign Director and Dreamer Juan Carlos Cerda said in a statement.
The National Immigration Law Center tweeted that Wednesday’s ruling “allows renewals to continue temporarily” as the lower court considers new DACA regulations put in place by the Biden administration that take effect on Oct. 31.
No new requests for DACA will be accepted.
Mayorkas said all who are currently in the program should not worry about being removed from it.
“As a result of the stay that remains in place, no one who currently has DACA will lose their protection from removal or work authorization. Consistent with that stay, DHS will continue to accept the filing of both initial and renewal DACA applications, but will process only the DACA renewal requests,” Mayorkas said.
Veronica Garcia, staff lawyer with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in California, urged DACA participants to renew their application at least 120 days before their expiration date “to ensure a timely response,” she said.
The nonprofit organization, based in San Francisco, offers this link to find those who need legal counseling regarding DACA.
The Migration Policy Institute has this link to find where DACA recipients live in the United States.