Immigrants Begin Legal Battle to Regularize Status of 80,000 – NBC Boston

NEW YORK – Undocumented immigrants and legal and civil organizations petitioned a federal judge in New York for the regularization of some 80,000 undocumented immigrants who unsuccessfully applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program between December 2020 and July 2021.

“We are here to ask the federal district court (in Brooklyn) to process the more than 80,000 DACA applications that are currently stuck in a legal limbo that we have been battling for the last five years,” said attorney Eliana Fernández, immigrant beneficiary of DACA and member of the NGO “Hazando Camino”, which participates in the lawsuit.

The DACA program, intended for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States when they were minors, protects more than 600,000 immigrants from deportation and grants them a work permit, as well as the ability to travel abroad and return.

In December 2020, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of New York -who is also the one who must rule on this new lawsuit-, ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reopen the DACA program to new applications, after the Administration of the then President Donald Trump (2017-2021) would have tried to suspend it.

However, in July 2021, another federal judge, Andrew Hanen of Texas, declared the DACA program illegal, and although he allowed people enrolled in it to continue renewing it, he prohibited new people from enrolling.

These 80,000 people made their applications between the two dates, which is why, according to the NGOs and their lawyers, the authorities should have processed them.

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The DACA program was created in the Obama administration to protect nearly 800,000 Dreamers from deportation.

“We want the court to give the green light for these applications to be processed and for those 80,000 people to have the same opportunities as the one I have had under the DACA program,” Fernandez insisted, referring to the people assigned to this program They have their status regularized.

One of the plaintiffs whose process is blocked is Johana Lagos, 28, who arrived in the United States when she was “almost 2 years old.”

“My application is in limbo, I can’t do anything, I can’t work legally and it’s affecting me because I can’t contribute to my family as I would like,” says Lagos, who has an 8-year-old son and a 4-month-old daughter.

DACA has postponed deportations of young people brought to the country by their undocumented parents as children. It began in 2012.

Behind them, some thirty activists chanted slogans in favor of undocumented immigrants.

“Immigrants united, they will never be defeated”, “The fight is not overshadowed, we are with DACA” or “We are not one, we are not a hundred, we are millions, tell us well” were some of the phrases that people chanted in Spanish, concentrated in front of the gates of the federal courthouse for the New York district of Brooklyn.

The hearing takes place a day after a session of a court of appeals in the state of New Orleans, where the decision made by Judge Hanen of Texas on the illegalization of DACA is discussed.