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For Immediate Release

 |
UWD Staff

The Time for a Pathway to Citizenship is Now

Congress must act as immigrant youth and their families await for a ruling
Contact: press@unitedwedream.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, Judge Hanen of the Southern District of Texas will be hearing oral arguments on the Texas v.s. United States Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) case. This time the arguments will regard the legality of the new DHS DACA rule announced by the Biden administration in 2022. Judge Hanen previously ruled against the program back in 2021, halting new first-time DACA applications from tens of thousands of DACA eligible youth. 

Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, Deputy Director of Federal Advocacy of United We Dream, said: 

“The needless attacks on DACA recipients over the years as we simply try to live, provide for ourselves and our loved ones, continue to put us in limbo. DACA is right and while Congress has failed to provide a pathway to citizenship, DACA has been a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people to work, and live without the constant fear of deportation. With today’s hearing, we are reminded that Judge Hanen’s prior ruling against DACA denied hundreds of thousands of DACA eligible young people the opportunity to have their applications processed. The fight for DACA recipients and DACA eligible youth impacts millions of others who also work with, live with, and otherwise depend on us. 

We need Judge Hanen to make the right decision and find DACA legal, but the reality is that it’s cruel to keep forcing  immigrant youth to live from court case to court case. We need President Biden and Congress to act and pass permanent protections like citizenship now.”

Maritza Gutierrez, person with DACA and CHIRLA member, said:

“I attended the 2019 Supreme Court hearing on DACA and now again I will be in court witnessing history and sharing my story.  With DACA I have been able to study, graduate from UC Santa Cruz, and work to support my family and my 2-year old.  What I hope will happen soon, no matter what the court says, is that Congress is ready to pass a permanent solution for me and so many immigrants who live and contribute to this country.  This back and forth every two years for a DACA permit is based on political whim and it’s very stressful as well as keeping me planning long-term, such as going for my master’s in social work or psychology.   They got to stop playing with our lives and recognize us for who we are and where we are, immigrant Americans at home.”

Ivonne Ramirez, person with DACA and Social Poet Award Winner, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, said:

“Once again, we put our lives in the hands of people that don’t seem to understand that to us home is here. Judge Handen previously ruled against the program back in 2021 and has affected a lot of young adults who would like to better themselves and live without the constant fear of deportation. We need Congress to pass a permanent solution, so we can stop living our lives in two years increments.”

Danilo Zak, Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service, said:

“Communities across America have supported the DACA program since its start, and yet, time and time again xenophobes have used our legal system to create obstacles for the program and leave our neighbors in limbo. Two years ago, when Judge Hanen ruled against the program, it was at the expense and harm of hundreds of thousands of DACA-recipients and DACA-eligible individuals. These are fellow students, teammates, congregants, peers, and co-workers, for whom the protections offered by DACA have been a lifeline. For their right to remain in this country to remain on the chopping block is egregious.  DACA should be recognized as a lawful program that makes America stronger, and it is long past time for Congress to pass permanent solutions that honor the dignity and personhood of DACA recipients and all Dreamers. They deserve better. We deserve better. And America deserves better.”

Blanca Gamez, person with DACA and staff member at the ACLU, said:

“Dreamers shouldn’t have to live in fear that their livelihoods could be stripped by the courts at any time. It’s past time for Congress to quit playing politics with Dreamers and provide them — and other undocumented members of our communities — with long-overdue permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship.”

Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), said: 

“After years of uncertainty for DACA recipients, today’s hearing serves as a stark reminder of the prolonged legal battle endured by immigrant communities. The outcome of this case not only affects DACA recipients but also the countless individuals who work with, live with, and rely on the contributions of these integral members of their communities across the country. DACA is not only morally right; it is legal and has empowered thousands of young individuals to complete their education, obtain work permits, and be shielded from detention and deportation. The positive impacts of DACA resonate throughout families, communities, our economy and our nation as a whole.”

Jesus Escamilla, DACA recipient, and UFW Foundation leader, said:  

  “Judge Hanen needs to affirm DACA once and for all. DACA recipients cannot continue to live in limbo with this nonsense. DACA has a significant positive effect in everyone not only on young students, it also affects our families and help us to find better opportunities and better jobs. As a DACA myself and a member of the farm worker community I ask to please support us and let our DACA beneficiaries move forward. I need my DACA to work, to travel and to support my family. DACA is legal and right!” 

Jung Woo Kim, Co-Director at the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), said:

“I am a DACA recipient and defendant-intervenor in the case being heard by Judge Hanen. DACA has provided protection from deportation and the ability to legally work for hundreds of thousands of people for years. Judge Hanen must recognize the benefits and importance of DACA and rule to protect it. At the same time, we know that DACA is NOT enough and there are millions more who are ineligible for the temporary program. Congress and the White House have neglected and targeted our communities for decades, all while benefiting from our labor, taxes, and community contributions. Congress must act NOW to legislate permanent protections for all immigrants! We remain united. We reject the many efforts by state and federal lawmakers to divide us through their xenophobic and racist fear-mongering.”

Donna Norton, Executive Vice President at MomsRising said:

“We are looking to the courts, to Republicans in the states that are challenging DACA, and to Congress to recognize that home is right here, in the United States, for hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients, who make enormous contributions to their communities every day.  They are our doctors, our nurses, our teachers, and our child care and construction workers. They hold essential jobs that make our communities more successful and keep our families healthy and safe. Ending DACA would create a humanitarian catastrophe. It would exacerbate our labor shortage, destabilize our economy, and diminish our  already weakened care infrastructure. America’s moms want a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, so they no longer have to live under the threat of losing their work permits or being deported from the only place they call home.”

Felecia Russell, Director of the Higher Ed Immigration Portal, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and DACA recipient said:

“The uncertainty of DACA and to constantly live at the mercy of the courts is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining for all program recipients. The fight to protect DACA recipients and those who have been denied access to the program is timely, necessary, and imperative. We urge Judge Hanen to make a decision to uphold the future of this popular and successful program for its recipients and the families, workplaces, and campuses that rely on “Dreamers.” More importantly, we hope the latest reminder about the tenuous future of DACA and the tens of thousands of lives in limbo spurs President Biden and Congress to finally deliver on permanent protections to allow DACA recipients and the broader population of “Dreamers” a chance to become American citizens.” 

Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director of Justice Action Center, said:

“Immigrant communities deserve the freedom to thrive. Since 2012, the DACA program has allowed hundreds of thousands of undocumented people to support themselves, their families, and their communities without fear. Nevertheless, the program only provides partial and temporary relief to current DACA recipients, while a 2021 ruling by Judge Hanen has frozen first-time applications for nearly two years. Tomorrow, he will hear oral arguments in Texas v. USA, while impacted communities continue to be left in limbo. It is past time for Congress to pass real, permanent protections and a path to citizenship now.”

Kica Matos, President of the National Immigration Law Center, said:

“DACA for years has transformed lives, strengthened communities, and bolstered our economy. Today and every day, we stand with DACA recipients, their loved ones, and immigrant youth fighting back against politicized attempts to end the policy. Amid these senseless attacks, DACA recipients and immigrant youth have endured constant uncertainty for more than a decade. That must end. We urge Congress to do what is right and what Americans demand: a law that will provide them the peace and stability we all need to thrive.” 

Valentina Batalla Vidal, DACA recipient and member of Make the Road New York, shared:  

“Even though DACA only provides temporary protection for those who are eligible, it has been a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of people, including me. I have lived in the US since I was four years old, and DACA allowed me to return to college and pursue my personal and professional dreams. 

“Being in front of a court to protect DACA is nothing new to me. While we have been fighting to keep the program alive, we have also been fighting for a pathway to citizenship not only for DACA holders like me but also for our parents, our loved ones, and millions across the country. We know that DACA is not a permanent solution, and while we continue to fight for Congress to deliver a path to citizenship, we’re in Texas today to tell Judge Hanen to do the right thing. DACA is right and legal, and it should continue.”

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United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation; made up of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic network of 1.2 million members, over 100 local groups, and a reach of over 5 million per month. UWD’s vision is to push for just policies that allow everyone to thrive regardless of immigration status. United We Dream is fighting for a multi-racial democracy that works for everyone by building a movement of young people who organize and advocate for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color. You can find more at www.unitedwedream.org.