Court Ruling, Biden Election Could Save AZ DACA Recipients

Mark Richardson | Public News Service
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides protection from deportation and other rights for thousands of immigrants brought into the United States as children. Photo Credit: Raivis Razgals / Unsplash

MESA, Ariz. — Arizonans eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program are hopeful but cautious over a court ruling that could reverse a Trump administration policy that crippled the program.

A federal judge last week declared the appointment of Chad Wolf as interim Secretary of Homeland Security was unlawful, and he lacked authority when he limited access to work permits for thousands of so-called Dreamers.

Reyna Montoya is founder and CEO of the group Aliento Arizona and said the ruling could allow thousands of Arizonans to move on with their lives.

“This would allow us to hopefully reinstate the whole DACA program and all those 27,000 Arizona Dreamers who couldn’t apply for the DACA program will have an opportunity to apply for it,” Montoya said. “It would bring it back to the way that it was.”

The case affects a total of 650,000 people brought into the United States as children by parents who were undocumented. Montoya warns Dreamers to be patient, since the outcome of the ruling could be delayed by an appeal.

Montoya added Arizona’s Dreamers are cautiously optimistic that a Democratic administration will be moving into the White House in January. She said Dreamers are reminding President-elect Joe Biden of his promise to reverse President Donald Trump’s executive orders aimed at DACA.

But, she said ultimately, Biden needs to get a measure through Congress to ensure the Dreamers’ future.

“So is he going to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure that we have a congressional action? Because at the end of the day, we need some permanence,” Montoya said. “And if he doesn’t solve it, then we might have another president in four years again who might not like the program.”

Wolf was nominated for the DHS job last summer but was never confirmed by the Senate. The New York federal judge upheld a General Accounting Office finding that Wolf does not have the statutory authority to serve as acting secretary, and his order cutting DACA work permits was invalid.