The clock may be ticking on DACA

The ruling adds insult to injury


COMMENTARY BY RAYMOND RICO local immigration Attorney

Anger, despair, frustration, uncertainty, and general tiredness. These are the feelings undocumented youth have expressed as District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, on July 16th, halted first time applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

The ruling adds insult to injury as first time applicants were not able to file from September 2017 until December 2020 when former President Trump’s efforts to end the program were overturned by the United States Supreme Court. From December 2020 until the present, nearly 80,000 new applications have been received, but only a few thousand have been processed. If a new DACA application is currently pending, the July 16th decision ordered that the applications would remain pending until the appellate process is complete.

The current lawsuit seeks to have the entire program ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. For the time being, DACA renewals can continue to be processed, but this ruling puts the entire program in peril if the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court agree with Judge Hanen.

“Guilty” is the feeling Yazmin Valdez felt when she heard the ruling. Yazmin is one of the few that applied as soon as the Supreme Court ordered that new applications be processed and had her DACA status approved. In the last two weeks she received her work permit, her social security number, and is currently awaiting her driver’s license to be mailed to her.

“I felt like I received a golden ticket, it hasn’t really hit me yet as I have been undocumented for so long. I no longer feel scared to drive, which is a relief.” Yazmin recently graduated from Donnelly College and will enroll at Rockhurst University this fall.

Yazmin is focused on assisting others and pushing for a solution. “I feel guilty for all of those who won’t be able to be approved for the program. I have helped organize DACA clinics with the Kansas Missouri Dream Alliance and pushed others to apply. I feel like I was promising something that won’t be realized. Even my new status could be taken away and my life put on hold. It is scary that the Supreme Court could decide my fate soon and take so much away. These protections are under threat.”

Congress is currently considering adding provisions to legalize farmworkers, Temporary Protected Status, and the DACA population within the budget reconciliation bill. Prospects seem dim that the Senate Parliamentarian will rule that these provisions are germane to the budget. This ruling may take place in the coming weeks. Should this effort fail, the Senate will need 60 votes to break a filibuster to pass any immigration reform package through the Senate.

The Biden Administration plans to appeal the Texas ruling and it is possible that the order stopping new applications from being processed could be lifted by a higher court while the appeals process proceeds. This matter will most certainly end up in the Supreme Court. Previously, the Supreme Court decided that the manner in which former President Trump tried to end DACA was not constitutional. This time the Supreme Court will decide the fate of the DACA program. Given the conservative leanings of the Supreme Court Justices, the clock may be ticking on DACA.