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DACA's future still uncertain.
DACA's future still uncertain. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

Biden’s new DACA rule not enough as immigration advocates call for more action from Congress

DACA's new rule bolsters its strength against legal action but it will always be on shaky ground without a pathway to citizenship.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 24, The Biden administration announced its newest action on DACA aimed to further preserve and protect it from legal action. The new rule would codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to protect it from any legal opposition it may face as Republicans look to terminate the program.

Despite the action, it hasn’t stopped immigration advocates from pushing Congress for action.

Immigrant advocacy group, the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), issued a statement calling for Congress to pass legislation for pathway to citizenship. While Biden’s rule gives a bit of protection, without congressional action, the program’s future is still very much in the air.

DACA was an executive order from former President Barack Obama, who implemented it in 2012. Not much has changed about the memo Obama issued that made DACA since its inception. Former President Trump tried to shut down the program during his time in office, but was ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court.

“While we recognize DHS’s efforts to preserve and fortify the DACA program, we believe that this final rule is not enough to protect DACA recipients like me,” said ABIC Deputy Campaign Director and DACA recipient, Juan Carlos Cerda in a statement. “This Fall, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will determine DACA’s future, and DACA recipients and our employers are once again grappling with the uncertainty inherent in this temporary program. Only Congress can avert the devastation that this Court ruling and a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking DACA would undoubtedly cause. Now is the time to build on the successes of DACA and pass bipartisan legislation that provides a path to citizenship to DACA recipients and other Dreamers.” 

The program has been cut off to new applicants since July, 2021 as a part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by Texas and other Republican states alleging DACA is in violation of federal immigration laws. Biden appealed U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling and it now heads to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Republican leaning court will likely side with Judge Hanen. Biden will then appeal to the Supreme Court. 

“At a time of widespread labor shortages and rising food and gas prices, only Congress can find a bipartisan, common sense solution to the DACA program. If DACA is struck down by federal courts, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers will be forced out of the labor force, further fueling inflation, exacerbating supply chain challenges, and tipping the economy into recession,” David Barber, former president and CEO of Barber Foods and Tyson Foods Business Development Specialist, in a statement. “As a business leader, employer, and life-long Republican, I urge Congress to immediately pass legislation that offers a pathway to citizenship for our nation’s 2 million Dreamers.”

Biden also called on Congress for legislation for pathway to citizenship in a statement about the new DACA rule on Wednesday.

“I will do everything within my power to protect Dreamers, but Congressional Republicans should stop blocking a bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers — It is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do for our economy and our communities,” he said. 

As a part of the new rule, it does not extend the DACA requirements of eligibility that applicants must have arrived in the U.S. by age 16, before June 2007. That still excludes a huge portion of a large population in the country. Immigration advocates push for this rule to cover all immigrant youth.

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