Recent court decision supports DACA, but recipients are not convinced

A judge in California has ordered that DACA recipients be allowed to submit renewal applications

On Jan. 9, California district court Judge William Alsup ordered Trump's administration to continue to accept applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, sparking lukewarm reactions from Arizona DACA recipients, activists and immigration attorneys.

The ruling allows individuals with DACA status who weren't able to renew their applications by October 5, the deadline set by the Trump Administration, to reapply. The ruling will also let expiring applications be renewed in the future, but doesn't allow new applications to be accepted.

DACA was a program enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2012 through an executive order. The program gave immigrants who came to the country illegally as children the ability to apply for renewable two-year temporary residency, allowing them to go to school and work.

Critics of the program called it an executive overreach. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of the program on September 5 and shortly after, President Donald Trump called on Congress to come up with a replacement.

About one in four of the roughly 154,000 DACA recipients whose status was set to expire March 5 failed to meet the October 5 deadline for DACA renewal, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Ayensa Millan, an immigration attorney at Cima Law group in Phoenix, said the U.S. District Court doesn't allow undocumented people to submit a new application and hasn't given out guidelines for the application process per this city order. She said until these guidelines are made public, immigration attorneys and their DACA clients can't file anything.

"If what has happened in the past is any indication of what's going to happen in this particular situation," Millan said. "I wouldn't be surprised if the government files an emergency injunction with the (U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals), asking if there would be a temporary halt to this decision until there is a full hearing on the merit." 

Trump responded to the ruling Wednesday morning, calling it "broken and unfair." Local advocates worry that the decision will be reversed shortly.

Belén Sisa, an ASU political science senior and DACA recipient, has advocated for the immigrant community since she applied for DACA in 2012. She said she is grateful for the support but is wary of how long it will last.

"With decisions like this, we should anticipate that the Department of Justice is going to appeal this decision as soon as they can," Sisa said. "The court's decision is a really powerful recognition that the lives of undocumented youth shouldn't hang in limbo."

Sisa acknowledged that DACA was a temporary fix and said recipients need permanent protection so they can stop living in uncertainty.

Edder Diaz Martinez, a journalism senior and DACA recipient, is also skeptical about the court's recent DACA decision.

"Personally, I'm just jaded," Martinez said. "This is nothing new. This is part of a legal game."

He said he wants to feel optimistic, but thinks the victory will be short lived. Both Martinez and Sisa said that people, allies and recipients alike, should continue to advocate for a "clean" DREAM Act.

"Emotionally, you know, you want to feel happy and you want to celebrate a victory, but we know the political realities," Martinez said. "We expect that the Department of Justice will appeal this shortly."

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