New DACA ruling impacts pending and new applications

Protesters supporting DACA at a 2017 demonstration in Los Angeles. Molly Adams l Defend DACA

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) services continue for Saddleback students, and plans for related events on campus have not changed despite the Sept. 13 ruling by a U.S. District Court in Texas deeming DACA illegal.

New and pending DACA applications will no longer be processed after the ruling, but renewals will continue to be processed and work permits remain valid, said Aimee Vaquera, Undocumented Student Liaison at Saddleback, in an email following the order in September. 

Judge Andrew Hanen said his order prevents federal agents from taking action against someone for solely being a DACA recipient. DACA has 578,680 enrollees nationwide as of March 2023, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

“I encourage you to stay informed, and encourage students to connect with each other, with me, with organizations fighting this cause, to meet with our legal services to be screened for potential paths to Citizenship, and with our new Immigrant Student Alliance club on campus,” she said.

Vaquera urges individual students to seek free legal advice from The Coalition For Humane Immigrant Rights (CHILRA).

Hanen ruled the DACA Final Rule, a program that would allow deportation relief and work permits to those brought here as undocumented children to be unlawful and a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. 

Hanen’s ruling is expected to be appealed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is the third time the program has been presented to SCOTUS. Hanen’s ruling has barred the government from approving new applications, leaving the program intact for existing recipients during this anticipated appeals process.  

Lawyers representing DACA recipients argued that these states that are a part of a coalition against DACA have failed to show any proof of injury and did not account the economic contributions “Dreamers” have made since entering the workforce and integrating into society. 

They also argued that the program is an example of executive decision making that any president can make, aligned with past administrations.

DACA is expected to be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will sometime in 2024. Based on previous rulings, it is very likely that DACA will be ruled unlawful, and DACA renewals and Advance Parole could stop altogether.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in the Court’s Spring Term in 2025. Advance Parole for current DACA recipients is still available, and DACA renewals are still open though it is unknown at this time for how long. 

In the meantime, Saddleback College has many resources and support for DACA students and their families, including the EOPS office, the Undocually program, and the Immigrant Student Alliance Club.

“At this time the ruling does not change the program.” Vaquera said in an email sent to UndocuAlly members.

The UndocuAlly program helps staff and faculty member to create a safe and welcoming space on campus for undocumented students by learning the needs, concerns and challenges of immigrant students and their families. 

Undocumented Student Action week will be from October 16-20, and will feature multiple Zoom events geared towards supporting undocumented students. Some virtual workshops include how to access legal services at Saddleback and education and career resources for students without DACA.

The Immigrant Student Alliance is a safe space on campus for students affected by immigration policy. The Alliance hosts events to build community and develop resources and programs for immigrant students.

“Saddleback is willing to support through the upcoming Undocumented Student Week of Action that will have events that will support not only students but their families,” said Susanna Castellanos, the director of college equity, inclusion and access. “I encourage students to reach out to our Undocumented Student Liaison, Aimee Vaquera who will provide them with additional resources.”

Several requests for comment from the Saddleback College Academic Senate and the Associated Student Government were unsuccessful.