GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - A federal judge blocked new, DACA applications on July 17, saying the program is illegal.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It's a program that protects certain undocumented immigrants from deportation and is intended to shield children brought to the United States.
Many of the applicants are young, as you have to be 15 to apply. And this gives them a way to work in our country to officially be a tax-paying, contributing member of society.
It has been over two weeks, with no action from Congress. Advocates are now asking leaders to step in and do something about this, as the people affected worry about their future in this country.
Cesar Salas is a Greenville DACA recipient.
"This is home for me. I've not been back to Mexico in 20 years," Salas said.
Salas came to America at just eight years old.
"When I was finishing high school, I remember my first job that I had was a nine to nine job that was paying about five dollars an hour. And this was under the table. What this allows us to do is to have a legal job where we can pay taxes and contribute to our economy as well," Salas said.
Texas Judge Andrew Hanen has now blocked new applicants. Jessica Wallace, chair of Hispanic Alliance's Legal team, explains the judge ruled DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act; meaning the executive branch overreached.
"DACA allows undocumented, otherwise undocumented immigrants, to obtain work authorization. And in South Carolina, without work authorization or some valid immigration status, you are not eligible for a driver's license," said Wallace.
The decision can also hinder applicants from getting jobs and higher education. There are over 5,700 DACA recipients in South Carolina.
Wallace says her clients now have to make a difficult decision.
"We have at least two dozen, or so. And now, we have to decide what we're going to do with those applications. Whether to file them, to hold off; it's going to be a decision the client has to make now," said Wallace.
The block does not cancel current recipients, like Salas, but he says this still makes him uneasy. He fears he could lose everything he has worked for too.
"It is very nerve-racking; especially with me being raised here. I've been here since I was eight; not having a clue of what's going to happen next," Salas said, "Thinking about that what that might look like is a little frightening—the job that I have, the people I know."
Wallace says it costs $495 to apply. She says she's not sure if these applicants will get their money back, nor a return on their legal fees. That application fee money helps support the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Politicians have been speaking out online calling for quick, Congressional action.
President Joe Biden called the ruling "deeply disappointing." The president says the Department of Justice intends to appeal this decision.
Salas and Wallace suggest pressuring state leaders to do something if you're looking to help get something done.
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