CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KSEE) – A federal judge blocked new applications for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and many locally are feeling the impact this decision could have.
“People that currently have DACA permits can renew them and they’re still protected, so it doesn’t affect anybody that currently has DACA,” said immigration attorney Camille Cook on Friday. “The worst news seems to be that they will not approve new applications, and as of today, it appears even if you have a pending application, they will not approve it. That could change because there could be an appeal which could basically temporarily put a stop to this order.”
DACA has allowed more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants to work in the U.S. without the fear of deportation.
Cook said when the government was allowed to resume accepting new applications at the end of last year, many applied.
“Many of those applications are pending and apparently they’re going to be on hold for now,” Cook said, adding that she has many cases who are in this situation. “And I’m sure there are many, many others in the valley as well because there are a lot of young undocumented immigrants in the valley,” she said.
KSEE24 News met a woman who didn’t want her name or face shown. She said she submitted her DACA application in December and that it’s is still pending.
“I want to further my education. I currently have a Bachelor’s so I wanna get my Master’s. And having DACA would mean that I could get my Master’s. I need to work to get my Master’s because they’re requiring some type of service hours,” she said.
She said she wants to be a physician assistant.
The federal judge’s decision has left her and many others wondering about their futures.
“We submitted over 200 applications. We have 200 clients right now who are technically in limbo,” said Mario Gonzalez, the deputy director with Centro La Familia Advocacy Services in Fresno.
“The next step and what we’ll be looking for is to see if there’s an appeal,” Cook said.
In a statement, Valley Congressman David Valadao said: “Today’s ruling exposes the dire need for Congress to legislate instead of our courts. Laws are written by Congress and trying to bypass the legislative process only makes Dreamers futures more uncertain. DACA recipients were brought to America through no fault of their own. They deserve their opportunity at the American dream. I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to pass legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.”
“All of my life I was just scared of getting deported or my family getting deported. It’s very scary to live in that situation,” the woman said. “I will be fighting for DACA. And I hope other people will be fighting for DACA still.”