FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2023
“Don’t Play With Our Futures” – DACA Recipients Descend on Houston to Defend DACA and Call For Permanent Protections
Impacted community members, allies, and activists attended Judge Hanen’s oral hearings with attorneys and held a subsequent presser.
HOUSTON, TX – People directly impacted by U.S. immigration failures, families, community members, faith leaders, allies, and activists converged upon the Bob Casey United States Courthouse in Houston, Texas on June 1, 2023. Nearly 100 people represented the hundreds of thousands current and potential DACA recipients to demand that the DACA program remain in place. Recognizing DACA as a temporary program, they underscored the need for Congress to legislate permanent solutions for all 11 million undocumented immigrants who have built homes in the United States. There is currently a bill in the U.S. House to update the already-existing Registry. It is a common-sense, long-term solution that offers relief on a rolling-basis.
The need for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship is more necessary than ever. There are 11 million immigrants in the U.S. who, because of a lack of permanent protections, live in fear and struggle to meet their basic needs. Every single person, regardless of race, status, or country of origin, deserves to live safely with their loved ones and to pursue their dreams. There is currently legislation introduced in the House that would update an existing law known as Registry and create a pathway to citizenship for millions of people – some who benefited from DACA, and others who are excluded from its protections. Now, more than ever, we need Congress and the White House to pass protections and rights for all immigrants.
Jung Woo Kim, NAKASEC co-director and intervenor-defendant in the case: “We gathered once again at the courthouse to remind Judge Hanen that there are real lives at stake in the case he is considering. We are parents, children, students, and workers. We are your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers. We are the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have depended for years on the protection from deportation and ability to legally work that DACA provides. At the same time, we know that DACA is NOT enough and there are millions more who are ineligible for the temporary program. Congress and the White House have neglected and targeted our communities for decades, all while benefiting from our labor, taxes, and community contributions. Judge Hanen must protect DACA for the almost-600,000 people who participate in the program, and Congress must act NOW to legislate permanent protections for all immigrants! We remain united. We reject the many efforts by state and federal lawmakers to divide us through their xenophobic and racist fear-mongering.”
Valentina Batalla Vidal, DACA recipient and member of Make the Road New York, shared: “Even though DACA only provides temporary protection for those who are eligible, it has been a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of people, including me. I have lived in the US since I was four years old, and DACA allowed me to return to college and pursue my personal and professional dreams. While we have been fighting to keep the program alive, we have also been fighting for a pathway to citizenship not only for DACA holders like me but also for our parents, our loved ones, and millions across the country. We know that DACA is not a permanent solution, and while we continue to fight for Congress to deliver a path to citizenship, we’re in Texas today to tell Judge Hanen to do the right thing. DACA is right and legal, and it should continue.”
Damaris Gonzalez, DACA recipient and immigration justice organizer with Texas Organizing Project in Harris County, stated: “Since DACA’s inception just over a decade ago, far-right politicians have launched attack after attack against not just the program, but the basic humanity of recipients themselves. It is frustrating to have to fight constantly for the right to be accepted in a country we call home. The program has provided me with a layer of stability as I support my family and continue to organize in my city to protect my family and my community from deportations. Judge Hanen must recognize the thousands of lives that hang in the balance as he processes today’s oral arguments.”
Delegations from NAKASEC, Arizona Dream Act Coalition (ADAC), Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Community Change, FIEL, Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Make the Road New York, Make the Road Nevada, Texas Organizing Project (TOP), amd Workers Defense Project mobilized from 9 states for a rally and press conference to defend DACA and demand Congress and the White House pass permanent protections for all undocumented immigrants.
Background: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created in 2012 through an executive order of then-President Barack Obama. A temporary program requiring renewal every two years, DACA grants work permits and safety from deportation for hundreds of thousands of young people who arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007. DACA was hard-fought and hard-won by many Black, brown, and Asian immigrants who organized and fought relentlessly for years. In July 2021, Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas deemed DACA unlawful and ordered that new applications be halted. On July 6, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana, heard oral arguments on the case. On October 5, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court ruled the 2012 memo unlawful and sent the case back to Judge Hanen for adjudication on the recent rule. With their ruling, the DACA program remains intact for current participants while it awaits Judge Hanen’s decision.
Media contact: Rachel Koelzer, (213) 703-0992, firstname.lastname@example.org