Future of DACA program under review after federal ruling

Dreamers across New York City and the country are feeling disappointed after a federal appeals court Wednesday ordered a lower court review of Biden administration revisions to a program preventing the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the United States as children.

"It's really frustrating, infuriating. You know, the whole uncertainty," said Angel Reyes Rivas, a DACA recipient and organizing coordinator for Make the Road NY.

The ruling means the more than 80,000 first-time DACA recipients who qualify for the program cannot apply. The program however remains intact for more than 600,000 current DACA recipients.

President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was "disappointed" in the ruling, noting, "The court’s stay provides a temporary reprieve for DACA recipients but one thing remains clear: the lives of Dreamers remain in limbo." People protected by DACA are commonly referred to as "Dreamers," based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act.

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The president added, "And while we will use the tools we have to allow Dreamers to live and work in the only country they know as home, it is long past time for Congress to pass permanent protections for Dreamers, including a pathway to citizenship."

The advocacy group Families Belong Together said in a statement, "It is beyond time for Congress and Biden to act on their promises."

In 2012, President Barack Obama created DACA, allowing those who arrived in the United States illegally as minors to obtain a renewable two-year work permit that protects them from facing deportation, but a three-judge panel for the 5th circuit court of appeals says the Obama administration did not have the legal authority to create the program.

"This means that current DACA recipients can continue to renew their DACA. However, those people that are applying for the first time, first-time applicants, their applications will not be processed," said Yatziri Tovar, of Make the Road NY.

Texas-based U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen last year declared DACA illegal. He found that the program had not been subjected to public notice and comment periods required under the federal Administrative Procedures Act. But he left the program temporarily intact for those already benefiting from it, pending the appeal.

"Current DACA recipients can renew their status and apply for advance parole, but the ruling continues to block new applicants from being granted DACA," the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an advocacy organization, said in a statement. The organization was among advocates renewing calls Wednesday for the Biden administration and Congress to protect DACA recipients.

Angel Reyes Rivas who came to the U.S. from Peru when he was 15 years old says DACA has allowed him to create a life in this country legally and fears everything that he has accomplished could be taken away. 

"I'm definitely going to fight for my community, for my family. So that's why we urge Congress and President Biden to take action and provide a pathway to citizenship," said Reyes Rivas.

There were 611,270 people enrolled in DACA at the end of March, including 494,350, or 81%, from Mexico and large numbers from Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and South Korea.

With the Associated Press.