ASU DACA recipients elated as federal judge rules the program will resume

Immigration advocates celebrate a "huge moment" in their push to restore DACA

Arizona DACA recipients can breath easy for now after a federal judge temporarily overruled President Donald Trump's bid to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program Tuesday.

Federal Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Colombia ruled that the government must resume accepting DACA applications. The ruling will allow recipients to apply or renew their status with the program, delaying the Trump administration's efforts to rescind it. 

It's the latest blow to the Trump administration's immigration agenda, which has suffered several judicial losses since the rescission began.

In his ruling, Bates called the Trump administration's decision to rescind the deferred deportation program “virtually unexplained” and therefore “unlawful”. The Department of Homeland Security has 90 days to respond with sufficient evidence on why DACA should be ended. If they fail to convince the federal judge, the program will resume accepting new applicants.

This reopening of applications could benefit those who did not apply before the Oct. 5 renewal deadline laid out in the rescission. Despite outreach efforts to increase renewals by immigration advocates and attorneys, about one in four eligible DACA recipients across the country failed to apply, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

According to USCIS, as of January, there are there are over 25,620 DACA recipients across the state. 

Immigration advocates lauded the possible extension.

Korina Iribe, advocacy director of Undocumented Students for Education Equity at ASU, and a graduate student studying human communications and political science, stressed the importance of receiving DACA and said she's happy that others like her can now apply. 

"New applicants, most likely young people, will be have opportunity for the first time to come out of their shadows and be able to get their work permits, drivers licenses, and find a summer job without the fear of deportation," Iribe said. 

"When I first received my DACA in 2013, I was 22 years old and even then it was life changing. After high school I couldn't drive or get a job. To know how awful that felt and to know that young people can now apply again makes me very happy," she said. 

Ruby Rivera, an applied biological sciences senior and DACA recipient, believes the rescinding of DACA was "not very lawful" and is thrilled that this is the third judge to side with the program. 

"I think this is great that the judge ruled that they have to start taking new applications," Rivera said. 

"Right now they're only accepting renewals, but hopefully now more people who qualify for it can start applying. So far all the three judges have sided with the program and believe it should be continued."


In Sept. 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the recision of the program, which protected about 800,000 children who were brought to the country illegally as children. Trump then followed, giving Congress a March 5 deadline to pass legislation to find a permanent solution.

Lawmakers squawked during six months of inaction, finding no common ground and shutting the government down twice before their deadline. That deadline was then voided when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did first, giving recipients some relief.

Tomas Robles, executive director of Living United for Change in Arizona, said the ruling is a "huge moment" for immigration advocates, and hopes to "register as many people into the system as possible" if the 90 day period expires. 

"We are definitely optimistic but we'll be cautiously awaiting the 90 day grace period. As far the result, it is a massive step forward and another sign that the administration's agenda has a long way to go to overcome the rule of law, highlighting the importance of checks and balances," he said.


 Reach the reporters at wmelhem@asu.edu and anicla@asu.edu or follow @wissmel and @andrewnicla on Twitter.

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