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DACA Ruled Unlawful: What This Means For Dreamers


On Friday July 16th, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was ruled as unlawful and was subsequently terminated after a reviewing process by Federal Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Texas, the Judge in charge of the case questioning DACA’s legality. Judge Hanen said that President Obama, who implemented the program through a 2012 executive order, had exceeded his authority by putting DACA in place. 

 It is important to note that while current applications have been suspended, with renewal applications continuing to be processed, current Dreamers (those protected under DACA) will continue to be granted status in the U.S. therefore allowing them to continue to live and work in the U.S. Even amidst this glimmer of positive news regarding the protection of current Dreamers, their protections could be terminated if not swiftly secured through federal law. Because of this, many advocates and supporters of DACA are urging the Biden Administration to divert funds to citizenship for Dreamers before their protections are fully taken away. DACA applicant Sarahi Magallanez shares her personal plight: “DACA is not safe, and we are at the mercy of whoever is in power.”

Looking to the future of DACA and the next steps for the program after this ruling, the Biden administration will likely appeal to the ruling and then the fate of the program will be decided by the Supreme Court if Congress does not propose a legislative solution. Additionally, supporters of the program are supposed to appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit. 

The lives of 800,000 Americans, 200,000 of which are essential workers, have been put on a seesaw where instability is ever-present. These Dreamers do not know what the government and legal system will decide for their futures. As said by director of the immigration clinic at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Michael Kagan, “Dreamers may have to live with some level of doubt and anxiety for the foreseeable future.” These developments with DACA make it clear that the U.S. immigration system needs to be strengthened and reinforced with more pathways to citizenship and legal immigration if we are to preserve our nation: a nation of immigrants. Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project similarly says, "It is absolutely urgent that Congress acts now through the budget reconciliation process to provide Dreamers and other undocumented members of our communities with reliable status and a pathway to citizenship.”

In the words of Greisa Martinez Rosas, the Executive director of United We Dream, "[p]rotecting DACA is the floor, not the ceiling, of what a Biden-Harris administration must do."


Image Courtesy of The People’s Party



Alvarez, Priscilla. “What to Know about DACA Being Ruled Illegal.” CNN. Cable News Network, July 17, 2021.

Jordan, Miriam. “Judge Rules DACA Is Unlawful and Suspends Applications.” The New York Times. The New York Times, July 16, 2021.

Treisman, Rachel, and Vanessa Romo. “Federal Judge Rules Against DACA Program But Current Recipients Are Safe For Now.” NPR. NPR, July 17, 2021.

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