“NO MORE DACA DEAL!” President Donald Trump tweeted on April 1 about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that chiefly allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to work, study and get a driver license.
The program, a 2012 executive order by President Barack Obama, affects some 800,000 young people and has become a political flashpoint since President Trump rescinded the order last September.
Dulce Garcia, a local immigration lawyer — and a so-called "Dreamer" herself — is among six DACA recipients suing the president over the revocation. In January, an injunction was issued by a California federal judge ordering the government to continue accepting applications.
“We had a win, per se, in the lower district court, we were able to obtain an injunction that partially brought back the DACA program,” Garcia explained to Politically Speaking’s Gene Cubbison.
“Applicants that never applied for the program are still left out of the program. There are no new applications right now being looked at or received or processed, but those that do have DACA right now have the ability to renew for two years. And so that preliminary injunction right now is what’s in the courts right now,” she said.
Garcia said the next step in the lawsuit is a hearing in the 9th Circuit in May.
Garcia was brought to the U.S. illegally as a four-year-old and has lived in the country for 30 years.
“There’s no path to citizenship for me, so as long as we keep putting off the DREAM Act,” she told Politically Speaking. “There will never be a path to citizenship for me. So that’s what we’re fighting for, those of us who have been in this country contributing, paying taxes. I’m a job creator.”
Garcia employs workers through her law firm. "The irony of it is I‘m not allowed to employ undocumented people. So the people I’m employing right now, everybody in my office is a U.S. citizen,” she said.
A child brought to the U.S. under the age of 16 is eligible if the child has lived in the U.S. since 2007.
Garcia said it sometimes takes six months to process applications, even if it’s a renewal. “There have been a number of applicants that are just waiting in limbo right now to receive their approval,” she said.
Polls show a majority of Americans support DACA recipients staying in the country, and fewer people are trying to cross the border illegally.
“Since 2000, the numbers have dropped and so there’s really not a crisis the way that the president and the Republicans are painting. It’s not that we’re invading this country,” she said.
She said she’s concerned that any DACA deal Trump agrees to will be in exchange for financing for the border wall.
“We don’t want more border patrol agents here,” she said. “Questioning their status, or more ICE agents here, especially in San Diego County where we have both Border Patrol and ICE agents. And now with this administration that’s specifically targeting California, specifically targeting the southern border here in San Diego, it’s become a priority for us to advocate for a clean dream act, one that’s not going to be hurting our communities even more."
When the decision to end DACA was announced in September, the president said it was "in the best interest of our country" to "begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption."
He said he was not cutting off the DACA recipients but giving Congress a window of opportunity to "finally act," NBC News reported.
Attorney Jeff Sessions called DACA unconstitutional and said it had "denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens."
"We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws," Session said.