Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was illegal. This decision blocks new applications for DACA and puts the lives of almost 650,000 DACA recipients and the millions of people connected to them at risk. This includes our client, a UC Berkeley student who has been renewing her DACA application for the last decade and now worries about being unable to care for her grandmother. “We are not political bargaining chips. We are your neighbors, teachers, classmates, and caregivers,” she said.
DACA was announced in 2012 as a “stopgap measure” until Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform. It was intended to give immigrants temporary “relief and hope” because it was the “right thing to do.” In the decade since its creation, it has provided measured security. Still, there is potential for this program to solidify status for millions of young people if it were not for anti-immigrant politics. The Trump administration was unsuccessful in its effort to end the DACA program, but it did pack district courts with anti-immigrant judges. In August, the Biden Administration issued a federal rule to codify DACA into federal regulation. One month later, Republican-led states loaded undocumented persons onto buses, transported them across the country, and abandoned them without food, money, or shelter. This terrifying back-and-forth endangers DACA recipients, forcing many into a continuous state of instability and fear.
Since the DACA program was created, the East Bay Community Law Center has processed 1,564 DACA applications. We have built these trust-based partnerships through our “kindergarten to college” school-based immigration clinics, including UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Students Program. We will continue to provide legal consultation and renewals of DACA applications. We will also continue calling for the expansion of DACA and relief and freedom for all our undocumented community members. Our clients build their lives on government promises, and we are invested in accountability on their behalf.