Thousands of North Carolina Immigrants Could Be Affected By New DACA Ban
A federal judge in Texas blocked new and pending applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from being reviewed last Friday. The decision could affect the more than 12,000 immigrants in North Carolina who are eligible for the program and have not yet received it.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, North Carolina has around 35,000 immigrants who are eligible for DACA. Around 23,000 of those have already been granted protection and are therefore not directly impacted by the most recent halt on the program.
The decision out of Texas deems the Obama-era program illegal but does not remove protections from current DACA recipients. However, it does bar new and pending applications from being reviewed.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are more than 55,000 pending cases in the country.
North Carolina immigration attorney Cynthia Aziz says these immigrants, who are often referred to as "dreamers," have been on a roller coaster ride from the program’s constant legal challenges.
“I can't think of a better word than 'cruel,'” Aziz said. “It just seems cruel that our country cannot come up with a fair way to process these cases and a legislative process to give them a path to a green card, to permanent resident status instead of treating them like this.”
She says in her practice alone she has three pending cases that are now affected by the decision. She also has one client who had finished her paperwork on Friday only a few hours before the decision was made. Now, Aziz says, her client is not sure whether or not to submit the application.
Aziz says her client would have to pay a $410 application fee and an $85 fingerprinting fee in addition to the costs of legal assistance —all without knowing if her application will even be considered.
“It's not recognizing the human dignity of these people, and that's what's so wrong for a country that believes in the human dignity of a person. This is not showing that,” Aziz said. “I really hope that we can have some responsible people in our leadership that can realize that and start acting on it to help these folks that are bringing so much goodness to our country.”
North Carolina ranks seventh in the country for most DACA recipients, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Immigration attorney Sharon Dove at the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy says the ruling comes after two decisions last year made it appear that protections for DACA recipients had turned a corner.
“Just absolute outrage — it is really unforgivable how certain folks in our country are putting these dreamers through the wringer as they are," Dove said. "I mean, they live in a constant paradigm of uncertainty, and it's terrifying.”
Over the weekend, the Biden administration said the Department of Justice will appeal the decision.