Potential impacts on undocumented students after new DACA ruling

Marisa Huerta

Undocumented students could be greatly impacted after a Texas federal judge ruled on July 16 that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is illegal and that the federal government should no longer accept new applications.

Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling did not revoke the benefits of those already in the program. Denise Gilman, the UT Immigration Clinic director, said states do not get to decide immigration policy, but states like Texas have tried to sue the federal government to end the program. 

“The DACA program has been a critical lifeline for students, allowing young people who’ve invested time, money and talents to get educated,” Gilman said. “If it disappears, you will see a huge waste of that investment by young people and also by the state of Texas.”

DACA, established in June 2012, allows undocumented people over the age of 15 to gain work authorization and remain in the country. 

Gilman said even though current DACA recipients will be allowed to renew, that could go away if the program is terminated. Gilman said there’s “no possibility” for new people to file for DACA after this latest ruling. 

Gilman said DACA holders contribute greatly to our community, including their work in health care during the pandemic. Gilman said if the federal government were to end DACA, it would harm students everywhere because they would eventually face deportation.

“It would be a disaster,” Gilman said.

Gilman said a more permanent solution would focus on a pathway to citizenship where DACA holders could obtain green cards and eventually citizenship, but these bills never gain enough support to pass in the House and Senate.

“There has been broad bipartisan support for a permanent path for dreamers, and yet somehow it always gets stymied in politics and doesn’t get passed,” Gilman said. “I hope that Congress will act and create a permanent pathway for young people who have benefited from DACA and for those who were left out of DACA when the Trump administration tried to end the program.”