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Follow our coverage of immigration and related issues affecting Latinos in the Charlotte area.

Thousands Of Young Undocumented Immigrants Still Can’t Apply For DACA Even After SCOTUS Decision

USCIS building in Charlotte
Laura Brache

It has been nearly a month since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The 5-to-4 vote was considered a win for DACA’s more than 800,000 recipients across the U.S. But there are still thousands of young undocumented immigrants left in limbo. 

Charlotte immigration attorney Jamilah Espinosa says this was her biggest concern.

“I was optimistic, but at the same time was very apprehensive and clear when the decision came out that it was a win, in one sense, but it wasn't a complete victory,” she said. “The administration wants to cancel the program and is basically showing us that that's what they're going to proceed to do at all costs.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped accepting any new applications for DACA in 2017 when President Trump announced he would end the program. Espinosa says because of the ruling, the government should have issued guidance by now on how it would comply with the Court’s decision.

“That is letting us know that they're not going to comply with what the Supreme Court's decision [saying] the program has to go back to where it was prior to Donald Trump's administration canceling it, which was allowing initial applications to move forward and allowing those renewals,” she said.

Espinosa said at least 10 of her clients are waiting to see if it’s worth the nearly $500 application fee to apply for DACA status. 

According to Espinosa, to pressure the administration, immigration attorneys have to file a writ of mandamus ordering the Department of Homeland Security to perform what is required by the Supreme Court decision — that is, until the president files to cancel DACA again.

Since the SCOTUS decision, Trump has tweeted that he will try again to end DACA.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates there were 24,050 DACA recipients in North Carolina as of March 2020. But there are an estimated 14,000 residents who are eligible for DACA and haven’t applied.

Laura Brache is a Report for America corps member and covers immigration and the Latino community in Charlotte for WFAE and La Noticia.

Laura Brache works with WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte, through Report for America to cover immigration and deportation issues facing the Latino community. She also reports on the Charlotte immigration court, one of the toughest in the nation with the second-highest deportation rate in the country in 2019.