By:  Richard Hanus, Esq.

Published July 26, 2021

It’s been almost 10 years since our nation put into action an initiative known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or “DACA” to allow undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to have a morsel of immigration status.  This morsel came in the form of a 2 year, renewable employment authorization document and a shield from being deported.  After various stops and starts in the meantime, the DACA rollercoaster once again came to a stop last week for thousands of first time applicants who were advised that their process must be put on hold.   As has become a regular exercise, the people caught in the middle of this legal and political football match are left to wonder when, if ever, they will achieve a stable life in the U.S. and otherwise find peace.

At present there are nearly 700,000 DACA recipients living in the U.S.  They are from all over the world and were brought to the U.S. while under the age of 16 and in violation of our immigration laws.  Other than their immigration status though, DACA immigrants have essentially clean backgrounds and gone on to become students, doctors, nurses, scientists, researchers, engineers, lawyers, inventors, entrepreneurs, financial professionals, artists, etc.  They pay taxes, own homes, have families, start businesses, employ U.S. workers and look forward to a future here, except that future for them is anything but certain.

On July 16, 2021, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/CIS) must halt the issuance of new DACA approvals for first time applicants.  Notably, the ruling does not prohibit DHS/CIS from receiving new applications, nor does it impact current DACA protections or forbid approval of DACA extension requests while the litigation continues and appeals are considered by higher courts.  Barring action from Congress to finally address the issue, the matter will likely end up once again before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Given the unprecedented labor shortages our nation faces, and that most DACA recipients have lived a large majority of their lives in the U.S. and otherwise bring ambition and good character to the table, there is little, if any, reason to oppose allowing for a permanent fix to this issue.  The same can be said for the 12 million or so undocumented who are otherwise law abiding, but who sit in legal limbo here and await legislative action to bring them out of the shadows.

Sooner or later our Congress will face the reality that these immigrants are not leaving the U.S. anytime soon or ever, and although many hate to say it, our nation actually needs them.  So on the issue of DACA recipients and other undocumented, let’s hope our nation’s legislature acts practically to finally implement a path to citizenship both for the sake of these immigrants as well as for our nation.

PUBLISHED July 26, 2021– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2021, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois