Pictured: Protesters march fo DACA holding a sign that reads, "DACA is not enough."
Dreamers live in constant fear of being targetted for deportation by way of a self-perpetuating legal system. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

New York judge denies petition to resume DACA applications

DACA recipients are stuck in limbo while the case makes its way through the U.S. legal system.


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A New York Judge denied a request from DACA recipients on Thursday, Aug. 4,  to resume processing 80,000 new applications for status through the Obama-era program that granted a pathway to citizenship to U.S.-born children of immigrants, preventing deportation.

DACA applicants brought the case forward to Judge Nicholas Garaufis, but the court opted to uphold a previous “vacate” order issued the year prior. 

In July of 2021, Texas Judge Andrew Hanen said DACA was unlawful and directed the Biden administration to cease accepting new applications. 

“[T]hese rulings do not resolve the issue of the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and others who have relied upon this program for almost a decade,” Hanen’s order says. “That reliance has not diminished and may, in fact, have increased over time.”

After the ruling, thousands of applications have piled up, pending processing by the feds and an already overwhelmed backlog. 

It’s not the first instance in which DACA was threatened.

In 2020, the Trump administration tried to eliminate the program unsuccessfully after the United States Supreme Court ruled that they did not go about repealing it correctly. 

Trump’s administration often ran messaging surrounding DACA’s “illegality,” and was a key platform ahead of the 2016 presidential elections. 

“With each deliberate and cruel Republican-led attack against DACA, immigrant youth and their families have felt fear and uncertainty for their safety and their futures,” Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, Deputy Director of Federal Advocacy of United We Dream, said in a statement. 

“Judge Hanen’s ruling last year is a constant reminder that temporary protections will always leave people vulnerable to detention, deportation, and family separation.”

As a result of Hanen’s ruling, DACA recipients are forced to plan their lives in two-year cadences. Without a legislative remedy, the government leaves DACA recipients in limbo as the case makes its way through the high courts. 

Courts often find themselves on parallel sides of the issue when ruling on complex immigration reform. Garaufis previously ruled in favor of DACA applicants when he struck down a memo restricting DACA. 

He argued that Chad Wolf, the Secretary of Homeland Security at the time, was unlawfully holding office. 

With no end in sight to immigration reform, the system continues a self-perpetuating legal cycle, opening DACA up to continued threats of reversal. 

“As the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals approaches its decision on their DACA case, President Biden and his administration need to be bold and proactive in protecting immigrant young people, instead of waiting for court decisions. They must take the lead by preserving and fortifying DACA as promised,” Nascimento said.


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