It’s been a turbulent few years for beneficiaries of DACA
, a program established in
2012 to address a portion of the undocumented population that came to the US as children following multiple failed legislative efforts
. The Trump administration tried ending DACA in
2017, a move that faced immediate legal challenges and was eventually blocked by the Supreme Court last year
Steeds, immigrants eligible for the program were unable to apply until a federal judge rejected a follow-up plan by the Trump administration to overhaul DACA last fall
Maria, a 17-year-old based in California, was among the first group of DACA-eligible immigrants to apply for the program in December. Maria said her mom had to forgo paying rent so she could pay to submit her application. “It was nerve wracking. It was my first time applying for anything that has to do with my status in the United States,” sy het gese. CNN agreed to refer to her only by her first name over concerns for her status.
Between mid-November and December
31, rondom 2,700 immigrants applied for DACA
, according to USCIS data provided in court filings on a related case
. Daar is meer as 636,000 DACA houers as of December
Shortly after taking office
, Biden introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants
. Congress is the only body that can provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients through legislation
Biden reassured DACA recipients who met with him in the Oval Office in mid-May that he’s committed to passing immigration legislation and addressing the undocumented population, according to two recipients who attended the meeting.
“He made sure that we felt comfortable. We talked about many important things, like legalization, and had a friendly conversation,” said Leydy Rangel, a DACA recipient. “He did reassure us that he has our back and that this is the year to take that action. This meeting needs to be turned into action by the Senate.”
In Maart, die huis passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021
, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the recipients of DACA
, ook bekend as “Dreamers
,” as well as for Temporary Protected Status recipients and Deferred Enforced Departure beneficiaries
The bill passed the House in previous years but was voted on now that Democrats hold slim majorities in both the House and Senate. The bill is expected to hit a wall in the Senate, though immigrant advocates are holding out hope.
“Eerlikwaar, this is the best chance we’ve had in decades. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Immigration reform and pathways to citizenship are never easy,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group.
“We can no longer wait. The ball is in the Senate’s court,” DACA recipient Maria Praeli told CNN following the May meeting with Biden. “I know the President’s with us. Hy het dit gesê, this meeting reaffirmed it. … I hope that all those things signal to Congress that they need to act on it and move on it,” het sy bygevoeg, referring to legislation.
Looming over legislative action is an anticipated court decision in Texas over the legality of DACA
. The case before Judge Andrew Hanen
, brought by Texas and a coalition of states in 2018
, could mark the latest twist in years of legal back-and-forth over the Obama-era program
Texas — along with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia — argued in its initial complaint that the program placed an undue burden on the states and amounted to executive overreach.
Hanen has previously indicated where he stands on the issue
. In 2018, he said he believed DACA is likely illegal and ultimately will fail to survive a challenge before his court
, but allowed the program to go forward
But months after hearing arguments on the legality of the program, he’s yet to rule. In the interim, young immigrants — the next generation of DACA recipients — are trying to snag permits while they can and are waiting in line to obtain them.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services is digging out of backlogs that accumulated during the pandemic, which can translate to delays in biometric appointments — the first step toward obtaining DACA.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors — including an increase in applications and petitions — USCIS is experiencing delays for some applications and petitions filed, with processing times affected by several variables including demand and capacity,” said Victoria Palmer, an agency spokesperson, in 'n verklaring.
Karen Tumlin, director and founder of Justice Action Center and counsel in one of the DACA cases that went to the Supreme Court, has been in touch with legal service providers nationwide who are grappling with those delays.
“Sommige (DACA-eligible immigrants) have been waiting for so many years to get through, which is why the delays in the biometrics piece is heartbreaking,” Tumlin said. “If not now, when are they going to get through?”