Despite setback in Texas court ruling on DACA, the fight for path to citizenship for immigrant youth and undocumented individuals will continue
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) deplores the federal district court’s July 16, 2021 decision in Texas vs U.S., a challenge led by the State of Texas to the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which found DACA unlawful. Effective immediately, U.S. District Judge Hanen ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reconsider the June 15, 2012 DACA Memorandum and blocked DHS from granting DACA to hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth who had been unable to apply for deferred action and work authorization until last December. Based on Judge Hanen’s order, DHS cannot grant DACA to individuals who are requesting it for the first time. However, those who have previously been granted DACA are unaffected by the order and will be able to continue filing renewal requests with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Annie Wang, director of AALDEF’s Immigrant Justice Project, said, “DACA was never meant to be a long-term solution for undocumented youth. In light of Judge Hanen’s order and the uncertainty over DACA’s future, AALDEF stands with Asian and all immigrant communities to demand that Congress and the White House enact legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants and others who are undocumented in this country.”
Since 2012, AALDEF has provided legal representation to undocumented Asian youth. Asian immigrants make up roughly 10% of the population who are potentially eligible for DACA. AALDEF joined other civil rights organizations in an amicus brief that focused on the reliance interests of DACA recipients and the real-life adverse impacts that dismantling DACA would have on immigrant youth.
RAISE (Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast), a pan-Asian, undocumented youth-led group affiliated with AALDEF, said of the order, “While this decision once again puts DACA recipients in danger, this case is bigger than DACA and temporary protections. We refuse to perpetuate ideas of deserving and undeserving immigrants and the criminalization of our communities. Our lives cannot be in constant limbo from court case to court case, which is why we need permanent relief for all 11 million undocumented people now. We are calling for Congress to act now and provide a long-overdue pathway to citizenship that is inclusive of all undocumented people through the budget reconciliation bill as the lives of millions of immigrants hang in the balance."
Individuals who are eligible to renew their deferred action under DACA, but have not yet done so, should consult with immigration attorneys and nonprofit legal service providers if they have questions or need assistance submitting their DACA renewals. See the Home is Here coalition’s DACA update, as well as a list of legal service providers across the U.S.