IN FOCUS Discussion: DACA on hold

In Focus

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On Friday, a U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas ruled in favor of a group of states, who argued that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was implemented illegally by former President Barack Obama in 2012. The decision blocked new applications to the program, which protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children from deportation.

Hanen found the program violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it was created. But since there are nearly 650,000 people currently enrolled in DACA, his ruling would be temporarily stayed for their cases until further court rulings in the case. This is just the latest reversal in a series of back-and-forth decisions from federal judges in the program’s nine-year history, sending DACA recipients and prospective “Dreamers” into another emotional rollercoaster and leaving them unsure about their future.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a bid by former President Donald Trump to end DACA, saying his administration did so in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. But to this day, Congress still has not acted to provide a permanent pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. President Biden issued a statement Saturday, calling the ruling “deeply disappointing” and said the U.S. Department of Justice will be appealing the decision. He also renewed his call for Congress to pass the American Dream and Promise Act.

Xochitl Juarez, a DACA recipient joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. She shared her family’s story, the circumstances that led them to immigrate to the U.S., when she applied for DACA and where she currently is in the process, what being a DACA recipient means to her and her family, what the past near-decade has been like on an emotional level, and her reaction when she found out the program had been put on hold.

Dorany Rodriguez-Baltazar, immigration attorney broke down Friday’s ruling, what it means for current DACA recipients and prospective Dreamers, why it makes undocumented immigrants hesitant to apply at this moment in time, the legal fallout from the decision, and what happens next legally with the program.

Mayra Cedano, executive director for Comunidades Unidas, talked about the popularity of the DACA program and its high approval rating among the public, some of the reasons why Congress has not provided a path of citizenship for undocumented immigrants, how Friday’s ruling impacts their work with immigration reform, the reactions from the DACA community, what they recommend to people in the DACA community, and where her organization with focus their efforts next.

Current or prospective DACA recipients are invited to utilize the following resources for support and guidance:

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Juarez, Rodriguez-Baltazar, and Cedano, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.

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