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What is the DACA policy and why has the program been declared illegal?

A federal appeals court has ruled that the DACA program is illegal, what does this mean for recipients?

US President Joe Biden speaks at the Volvo Group powertrain manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, US, on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. The US labor market stayed strong in September as the unemployment rate unexpectedly returned to an historic low, leaving the Federal Reserve on course to deliver yet another aggressive interest-rate hike. Photographer: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Earlier this week, a federal appeals ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA is unconstitutional and that President Obama did not have the authority to establish it in 2012. However, the ruling states that those who already are protected under DACA cannot have their status taken away, only that new applications cannot be approved.

The decision affirms the 2021 ruling by a federal judge in Texas that stated that the Biden administration could not enroll any new immigrants into the program. The program provides Dreamers, those brought to the US at a young age, a path to legal residency.

What does the decision mean for DACA recipients?

The court’s decision leaves many undocumented individuals who came to the United States at a young age in a dangerous limbo where they live under constant threat of being sent back to their country of birth. Additionally, without any legal documentation accessing higher education, housing, and, importantly, employment can be very difficult.

Regardless of the ruling, those who are already enrolled are able to have their status renewed.

President Biden responded to the news on Twitter, saying that the decision “is the result of efforts by MAGA Republican officials to strip people of their protections.”

The tweet also included a call on leaders to “pass permanent protections, including a pathway to citizenship.” Sadly, after two years in office, immigration has not been high on the priorities list, leaving millions vulnerable to deportation.

Regardless of the court’s decision, the public supports DACA

Like many political disagreements in the United States, immigration has become a wedge issue. Political parties use immigration as a way to galvanize support but take no action to solve the problem and rebuild the broken immigration system.

Recently, these political stunts have been taken to a whole new level, with Florida Ron DeSantis using public funds from his state to send migrants from Texas to Martha’s Island in Massachusetts. There is currently an investigation into the incident, with some alleging that since the migrants had no idea where they were being sent, the acts amount to human trafficking, including the trafficking of minors across state lines, a federal offense.

Regardless of the popularity of the DACA program, there are no major legislative proposals circulating on Capitol Hill to make the initiative permanent. Pew Research polled voters in 2020 and found that around seventy-four percent of respondents supported DACA and a pathway to citizenship for those who arrived in the US as children. The poll found consensus around a majority of Republicans (54 percent) and Democrats (91 percent) on the issue of childhood arrivals.


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