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Pictured: U.S. Supreme Court with activists holding sign that reads: Home is Home. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images.
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What remains of DACA

A Federal Appeals court’s ruling said the Obama-era program that gives migrant-born children protection from deportation, is illegal.

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DACA’s continued struggle in the court system reached a point of inflection on Wednesday, Oct. 5, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled it unlawful, sending a chill to over 600,000 migrant children who live and work under its protections.

The three-judge panel that issued the ruling were all Republican appointees. The 5th circuit remains one of the country’s most conservative courts. 

The appeals court decision reaffirms an injunction issued on Feb. 17 by a Texas District Court, which sought to challenge the Obama-era protections for migrant children levied by 26 states. The injunction was set forth by Judge Andrew Hanen.

“For the reasons described below, we affirm the district court’s judgment with regard to the procedural and substantive provisions of the DACA memorandum,” the court's ruling reads. 

In contrast, the same ruling granted a stay for current DACA recipients, meaning those shielded under its protections can continue to work and renew their applications.

“The district court’s judgment vacates the DACA Memorandum but stays the vacatur as to those who have been granted DACA status. No present DACA recipient is subject to removal under the district court’s existing judgment,” the ruling outlines on continuing DACA protections. 

No new DACA applications will be accepted.

The decision is the latest in a series of legal blows for DACA as it makes its way through the court system, where judges find themselves unable to issue relief for migrant children who lawfully engage and contribute to the U.S. economy. 

What the data snapshot tells us is the average DACA recipient has been in the U.S. for 14 years, with the average age being 26 years of age. Additionally, approximately 39 states house over 1,000 DACA recipients who contribute to the state’s economy. 

“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 in August, after a New York judge rejected a motion to resume roughly 80,000 applications. 

And with no end in sight to immigration reform, DACA recipients have found themselves increasingly threatened by the absence of policy. In June 2020, the Trump administration attempted to repeal DACA completely, but failed when the Supreme Court said the procedure to do so had not been correct.

The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the court’s decision and the likelihood of the matter falling into the Supreme Court’s hands may also increase. 

“My Administration is committed to defending Dreamers against attacks from Republican officials in Texas and other States. This challenge to DACA is just another example of the extreme agenda being pushed by MAGA-Republican officials,” the President said in a statement.

The Democratic administration has long urged lawmakers to move forward on binding legislation, but measures failed as the matter of immigration represents a stark divide in Congress. 

Current Dreamers continue to pay the price in fear and anxiety, as the probability of DACA’s remaining defenses wanes in the courts. 

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