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By Miriam Raftery

Photo via San Diego Immigrants Rights Consortium

October 1, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – A federal district court judge in July declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal in part because the Obama administration did not allow public comments by publishing the rule in the Federal Register. Judge Andre Hanen let stand the program for those already enrolled, but blocked new applications.

So now the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security has published the regulation, which is open for public comments until November 29.  The department has also appealed the court decision.

DACA protects around 650,000 young people from deportation if they came to the U.S. before age 16 and were born on or after June 15, 1981.  They had to attend school or be a high school graduate, and not be convicted of serious crimes.

The Biden administration’s order, if not blocked by another court ruling, would allow new applicants to once again apply, an action that could affect an estimated 300,000 people. Representatives of both the University of California and the California State University’s Chancellor have voiced support for the Biden administration’s action, Ed Source reports.

“Many of the CSU’s brightest students and most dedicated employees are Dreamers and we value the may positive contributions they make,” Toni Molle, spokesperson for CSU’s Chancellor, has stated.

But some say the action doesn’t go far enough.  ‘What is needed is for the Biden administration to really focus its time and energy, especially on getting a permanent solution—DACA is just not sufficient,” says Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, the Hill reports.

The Attorney General for Texas, in his argument to strike down DACA, said of the court’s decision, “This lawsuit was about the rule of law – not the reasoning behind any immigration policy. The district court recognized that only Congress has the authority to write immigration laws, and the president is not free to disregard those duly-enacted laws as he sees fit.”  

According to the Department of Homeland Security, over 250,000 children have been born in the U.S. to a parent in the DACA program and around 1.5 million people in the U.S. live in the same home with a DACA recipient. Those households pay $5.6 billion in federal taxes each year and $3.1 billion in state and local taxes.

Dulce Garcia, executive director of Border Angels in San Diego and member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, is undocumented. “Our contributions to this country are innumerable. Yet, there’s no path to citizenship for us,” she says.  “We pay taxes, build the economy, and contribute to our communities during a pandemic…Every day that we live without a path to citizenship is a day filled with anxiety and fear.”

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