By Rebecca Canales,
Founder and CEO,
Whittier 360 News Network
Background on DACA
Introduced by the Obama administration in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was a major policy move aimed at providing temporary relief and work authorization to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. Often referred to as "Dreamers," these individuals have lived much of their lives in the United States. As of March's end, there were 578,680 immigrants enrolled in DACA, according to government data.
The Biden administration sought to protect this vulnerable group further by releasing a rule last year to "preserve and fortify" the program. The move was seen as a way to codify DACA and make it more resistant to legal challenges, thereby providing a semblance of stability to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers living in the U.S.
The Ruling and Its Implications
On Wednesday, Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas delivered a ruling that could have significant implications for DACA and its recipients. Specifically, Judge Hanen argued that the regulation intended to preserve DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act—a law that sets the rules for how federal agencies can establish regulations. This legal framework is essential in ensuring that agencies are consistent in their decision-making processes.
Although current DACA recipients are not immediately impacted, the ruling adds an extra layer of uncertainty to an already precarious situation. Hanen clarified that neither his order nor any related injunctions would require the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Justice to take immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any current DACA recipient or applicant. However, the ruling does raise questions about the program's future sustainability.
Political Stalemate and Community Reactions
Both sides of the political aisle have expressed empathy for the Dreamers, but concrete legislative solutions have proven elusive. Immigrant advocates and organizations have made persistent calls for a bipartisan Congressional solution to protect DACA recipients permanently. Unfortunately, previous attempts to secure these protections through legislation have stalled in Congress.
The ruling is likely to reignite the political debate surrounding immigration and DACA, especially as lawmakers remain divided on broader immigration reform. Given the strong feelings on both sides, finding a solution that appeases Democrats and Republicans alike will be a monumental task, requiring compromise and an understanding of the complex facets of immigration law and policy.
Fact-Checking Local Misinformation
Recently, some individuals in the Whittier community have been circulating the false claim that the "entire U.S. is land stolen from Dreamers." This statement is not only historically inaccurate but also misleading. While it's true that the history of the United States includes the displacement of indigenous communities, the term "Dreamers" is not synonymous with these native populations.
The term "Dreamers" refers explicitly to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and it is important to maintain this distinction when discussing DACA and immigration policy. Misinformation of this sort distracts from the real issues at hand and can contribute to further divisiveness in an already polarized environment.
Other misinformation being spread locally is that most Dreamers aren't Mexican. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data as of September 2021, the nationalities of DACA recipients, commonly known as 'Dreamers,' are predominantly Mexican, making up approximately 80% of the total. Other significant countries of origin include El Salvador with around 4%, Guatemala with about 2.5%, and Honduras at roughly 2%. The remaining 11-12% is a diverse mix, consisting of individuals from countries such as Peru, South Korea, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, and Argentina, each contributing less than 1% to the overall demographic. While the majority (90%) of DACA recipients come from Latin America, the program does include a smaller, yet diverse, representation from Asia, Africa, Europe, and other regions. However less than 10% of DACA recipients are non Hispanic immigrants according to government records from the federal and state governments.
The recent ruling by Judge Hanen places DACA squarely back into the spotlight and adds urgency to calls for a legislative solution. As the country remains divided over this and other immigration issues, it is ever more critical to foster a climate of informed, respectful dialogue. At Whittier 360 News Network, we are committed to providing you with balanced, accurate reporting that keeps our community informed. As the situation unfolds, we will continue to update our readers on this pivotal topic and its broader implications for American society.