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For Immediate Release

 |
Mariana O.

A Decade Ago Today, DACA Applications Opened to Immigrant Youth for the First Time

DACA continues to be under attack by Republican politicians. For immigrant youth their home is here and that is why Congress must deliver permanent protections for millions who remain in limbo and those who never qualified for DACA in the first place.
Contact: press@unitedwedream.org

Washington, D.C. – On this day ten years ago, applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were accepted for the first time. Thanks to the relentless organizing of immigrants and allies, millions of undocumented people have been able to receive temporary protections from detention and deportation and work permits under DACA.

Today, we honor the incredible organizing power it took to win DACA and the decade-long fight to protect DACA recipients and their families from countless right-wing attacks. We’re also calling attention to the over 80,000 applications that were received but not granted by USCIS following Judge Hanen’s decision last year. 

Katia Escobar, United We Dream Member and DACA eligible young person from Texas, said:

“After our Supreme Court win in 2020, the possibilities opened up for me, but that was taken away when a federal judge in my home state of Texas ruled that USCIS couldn’t process any more first-time DACA applications like my own. 

I should have DACA protections right now as I continue on my path to medical school and more. But I’m not giving up hope. I know that organizing can deliver wins for our community and I know that it is past time that Congress acts. While DACA remains in limbo and millions of us continue to live without protections, we need a pathway to citizenship.” 

Kirlish Orozco, United We Dream Member and DACA eligible young person from Florida, said:

“Today, I feel incredibly inspired by the decade long victory of immigrants who fought to win and keep DACA. I also feel very uncertain of my future and the millions like me who live everyday with the risk of detention, deportation and family separation. 

Even though my own DACA application remains frozen, I and millions of other immigrant youth remain fearless and unapologetic about taking action to demand a pathway to citizenship. Congress must borrow from our courage and do the right thing!”

Santiago Mueckay, Associate Director for Family and Child Migration Policy at Save the Children, and former DACA recipient, said:

“As a former DACA recipient who benefited from the protections of the original program, I’ve had the chance to focus my career on advocating for a more just and humane immigration system. For the past decade, Congress has chosen not to act to create permanent solutions for individuals who are stuck in limbo due to no fault of their own. Now, countless parents could be separated from their children and other family members if these protections are not codified into law. Save the Children calls on Congress to act now to expand protections and provide a pathway to citizenship, so families do not live in fear of being torn apart.”

Vanessa Guerrero, CHIRLA Member and DACA eligible young person from California, said: 

“I am one of many undocumented immigrants eligible for the DACA program, waiting tirelessly for its fate. Back in 2021 there was a small window of opportunity to apply but I was unable to get my application approved before it closed once again. 

We are in constant limbo, worrying about the inevitable consequences we’ll have to face, living undocumented with limited opportunities, especially since the program continues its fight in the courts. Even though the program is unstable, many of us still stay optimistic. I am optimistic that one day we will win a pathway to residency, not just for DACA eligible undocumented college students like myself, but all undocumented immigrants in the country.” 

Jose Palacios, Leader of Faith in Action, said:

“While DACA has given needed relief to thousands of immigrant youth, like my sister and partner – I was one of the thousands that was not able to apply to DACA. I am one of  80,000 applications that will continue to live in fear of deportation due to Judge Hanen’s decision. His decision has prevented many from applying to the program as new applicants. As a DACA recipient, I would have access to obtain a driver’s license, have a work authorization card and job security. The program could have made a monumental impact on my life and that of the other thousands of people who could have applied to it for the first time.”

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The Home Is Here national coalition is fighting to protect DACA recipients, their families, and all immigrant communities at the U.S. Supreme Court. DACA recipients are undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. They are also our nurses, our teachers, our coworkers, our family members, and our friends — and their home is here. For more information visit HomeIsHere.Us.