Recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are breathing sighs of relief following a June 18 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the policy and declaring past efforts by President Donald Trump's administration to rescind the program as insufficient.
According to sisters and DACA recipients Abigail and Karen Rodriguez, the decision offers a moment of security amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don't have a job right now,” Abigail said. “My employment card expires next year; I felt like I was in a limbo. ... With this ruling, it gives me the certainty that I'll be able to renew my work permit every two years.”
The 2012 policy offers eligible undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children a renewable two-year exemption from deportation and work authorization. The deferred action program, however, does not provide citizenship status, which supporters say is still needed for recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” and their families.
“Even though it is a positive ruling, at the end of the day, it still doesn't fix the issue,” Karen said. “We want to be able to become citizens. I've been here since I was 4 years old. ... It's hard to feel identified with a country and not be ... a member of society to the fullest. [I hope] it draws attention, and even though it is a positive outcome, that it's not the end.”
Houston-based immigrant rights organization Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle), or FIEL, demonstrated support of the Supreme Court decision at a rally held at the Mickey Leland Federal Building in Houston on June 18.
“We're here to renew our fight [and] our commitment to our community that we're going to continue to fight,” FIEL Executive Director Cesar Espinosa said. “The fight is not over if Dreamers still are in limbo in the sense that ... the program could go into peril again. ... We need to fight for a permanent solution, not only for Dreamers, but for families.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, were in attendance of the rally and also voiced their support.
“It is my commitment, and it is the responsibility of the United States Congress to pass DACA relief and to give you permanent status in the United States of America,” Lee said.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo released a June 18 statement on her support for the decision.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory not just for the Dreamers brought to this nation and this community as young people, but for common decency and the very values we all should hold dear as Americans,” Hidalgo said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed his opposition to the Supreme Court decision, pointing to 2018 efforts to declare the program as unlawful.
“We are disappointed with today’s SCOTUS decision, but it does not resolve the underlying issue that President Obama’s original executive order exceeded his constitutional authority," Paxton said in a June 18 statement. "We look forward to continuing litigating that issue in our case now pending in the Southern District of Texas.”