PHOENIX — Vice President Kamala Harris met with DACA recipients this morning about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program after a federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the program is ”illegal.”
DACA is a program that allows undocumented immigrants brought as children to live and work in the U.S. temporarily, it was created by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
An Arizona Dreamer was among the group meeting with Vice President Harris today.
“She tried to reassure us that we are part of this community and that we are important to this culture especially because a lot of us were essential workers during everything that was going on,” said Hugo Arreola-Tinoco, a DACA recipient from Phoenix.
Arreola-Tinoco says he has been working and advocating for DACA recipients and applicants for the last 9 years. For him, having his voice representing Arizona Dreamers was really meaningful today.
“It was important for me to be there because three of the people I’ve been working with were affected by last week’s decision. They had their biometrics appointment, they got the emails saying the biometrics appointments are canceled, they were almost there and they’re now back to square one.”
Vice President Harris tweeted about DACA after her meeting with DACA recipients today:
"Dreamers serve in the military and on the frontlines, earn degrees, and lead companies. They should not live with such uncertainty. Congress must create a pathway to citizenship through reconciliation or other means. I met with Dreamers and advocates to discuss the path forward."
Dreamers serve in the military and on the frontlines, earn degrees, and lead companies. They should not live with such uncertainty. Congress must create a pathway to citizenship through reconciliation or other means. I met with Dreamers and advocates to discuss the path forward. pic.twitter.com/1uaQhrjbDN— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) July 22, 2021
The Justice Department plans to appeal Friday’s ruling in the meantime immigration lawyers advise to continue applying.
“If I was a dreamer right now, that qualifies me to continue to file if it’s my first time, so that USCIS has your petition and provides you with a receipt,” said Ezequiel Hernandez, an immigration lawyer in Phoenix.
Hernandez says DACA recipients can still renew and the ruling still allows U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to continue taking new applications, the only difference is that those new applications won’t be processed.
“It just won’t be approved or denied until there’s a solution at a federal appellate level or at the supreme court,” stated Hernandez.
But the ruling does leave those with incomplete applications afraid just like Maria Dominguez, a Dreamer in Phoenix.
“To hear the news on Friday, Ii was not happy, I was mad. It’s not just when, it’s also what’s going to happen to me between here and now and, you know, when all of this comes down,” expressed Dominguez.
Dominguez is 16-years-old, she says she was brought into the U.S. by her parents when she was just a few months old. She qualified for DACA last year and applied for the program in May, but her application is now in limbo.
It's estimated that about 23,000 people are DACA recipients in Arizona. According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are about 14,000 Arizona students eligible for DACA, just like Dominguez.
But, Arreola-Tinoco says his meeting with Vice President Harris made him feel hopeful.
However, Dominguez says some Dreamers are tired of being tossed around and being used as a political debate without bringing any permanent solutions.
“I feel like with every step we take we get taken back you know,” expressed Dominguez.
While the future of DACA remains uncertain, organizations like ImmigrationHelp.org are offering to help low-income immigrants renew their DACA status for free.
If you would like to help their cause, you can contact them at their fundraising campaign.
If you need more information about what this ruling means to you and/or are in need of resources visit: