Stand with SC Dreamers and Demand that Congress Act Now to Protect Their Future!
Last Friday, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop processing new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The judge stated that DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can continue to accept new applications, but cannot process those applications, because DHS violated the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) when it created the DACA program in 2012.
While the Biden Administration has already pledged to appeal the federal district court order and fight to protect the DACA program, this decision is already having a devastating impact on South Carolina. The DACA program allows young people who were brought to the U.S. as children, and who do not have immigration status, to apply for temporary authorization to work in the U.S. and be protected from deportation if they meet stringent educational, national security, and criminal background requirements. Once someone receives DACA status, they must pay and apply to have it renewed every two years. In South Carolina, there are an estimated 5,520 DACA recipients. These young people make huge contributions to the state, including economic contributions, with DACA recipients in SC having an estimated spending power of $702.5 million annually and paying an estimated $81.7 million dollars in state and local taxes, and $138.4 million in federal taxes.
While DACA has provided life changing opportunity for young immigrants in this country to pursue their educational and professional goals and contribute to their communities, it has never been enough. The DACA program never provided recipients a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship in this country. In the nine-year history of the program, DACA recipients have had to live through the nightmare reality of constantly having their immigration status, and their futures in this country, being ripped away from them. This nightmare became a reality when the Trump Administration announced the abrupt end to the program in 2017.
When the U.S. Supreme Court finally ordered the DACA program be reinstated in 2020, SC Appleseed and DACA United SC sprang into action to help the estimated 9,000 Dreamers in SC submit their first-time applications for DACA status as soon as possible. “Dreamers” is a term that refers generally to immigrants without status who came to this country as young children but were not able to qualify for DACA because of the program’s strict age and date of entry limits, or because the program was closed by the Trump administration before they could apply. Friday’s court order means that, for now, the DACA applications of those Dreamers who applied when the program reopened will not be processed, and they will once again have to put their dreams on hold and live with the constant fear of deportation.
Louise Pocock, immigration policy attorney with SC Appleseed explains, “this ruling is crushing, horrible. My heart breaks for the young people who worked so hard to save the money and apply for DACA when the program reopened. There is a huge backlog of new DACA applications, and these young people have been desperately waiting for a decision. Now, with this ruling, they know there will be no decision and they have lost hope that they will be able to work or apply to college in South Carolina. This ruling pulls the rug out from under them and it is deeply unfair.”
This is an unacceptable outcome and Congress must act now to pass legislation protecting DACA recipients and Dreamers applying for status and provide a permanent pathway to citizenship for all undocumented young people in this Country. CLICK HERE to contact your members of Congress today and demand they act now to pass permanent protections for DACA recipients and Dreamers in South Carolina.
Learn more about DACA and Friday’s Federal Court Order (Texas v. United States):
- DACA United S.C. is an advocacy and support group for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and allies across South Carolina. Learn about the DACA program here and about resource for immigrants in SC in DACA United S.C.’s Resource Guide.
- Read the Texas v. United States Federal Court Order here.
- Read a Timeline of the litigation in Texas v. United States here.
- Read bios DACA recipients named in the Texas v. United States here, and stories of SC DACA recipients here and here.
- Read a Q&A on Texas v. United States here.