Ever since Donald Trump took the presidency, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries in Texas have grown accustomed to the stress of not knowing what will happen to them. The problem has gotten so bad that the number of DREAMers (named after the DREAM Act, an immigration bill with similar provisions that failed to become law) in the state have been on a steady decline.
DACA is the product of an is an Obama-era executive order that grants immigrants who entered the country as children relief from deportation, allowing them to apply for temporary work permits and driver’s licenses every two years. It is estimated that before the Trump administration, there were at least 124,000 DACA recipients reside in Texas alone.
But amid talks of DACA being rescinded by the president, the Migration Policy Institute claims that the number of Texan DACA beneficiaries has since dropped to 115,000.
Zaira Garcia, the Texas director for immigrant rights and criminal justice reform advocacy group FWD.us, attributes this decline to both the high cost of DACA reapplication and the fear that comes with reapplying for the program. Garcia adds that while DACA applicants submit their personal information in their original applications, going for reapplication has the effect of renewing those original fears.
“Some people are just scared to have their information out there,” she explained.
Adding to the uncertainty DREAMers face, Trump recently offered Democrats to reopen the government and extend the protections for hundreds of thousands immigrant youth by letting the DACA go on for another three years. While this should come as great news, the offer, which was ultimately refused, came with the condition that Congress allocate the demanded amount of federal funds to the construction of his border wall.
“It’s really not a deal; it’s just another Band-Aid that leaves a large community of people in a state of uncertainty, and that’s not what we need,” said dreamer Vanessa Rodriguez.
“Trading any form of amnesty for a small down payment on the border wall is not only a bad deal, but a betrayal of trust of the American people,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federal for American Immigration Reform.
Offering some sense of security, although potentially short-lived, is the news that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case against DACA brought by the Trump administration.
“It allows [the debate to continue] without a ticking time bomb. Now, members of Congress can take their time to debate what is the correct piece of legislation to put out that will protect individuals long term or even permanently,” Garcia celebrated.
For now, DREAMers have no choice but to live to fight another day.
If you, or a loved one, are a DACA beneficiary in Texas and want to discuss your legal options should the worst happen, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices at (512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.