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Post-DACA Ruling: While Urging Long Overdue Congressional Action, Here’s What Higher Ed, the Biden Administration, and State Leaders Can Do for Dreamers in Interim

For Immediate Release: September 14, 2023

Courtesy of The Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration

Washington D.C. – Yesterday, Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas once again issued a ruling underscoring the uncertain future of the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This decision, echoing Judge Hanen’s initial ruling in 2021, maintains much of the inadequate status quo – keeping the program’s protections and renewals for current DACA holders while denying first-time applicants access to DACA’s vital safeguards and opportunities.  

In response to this ruling, the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and the TheDream.US, strongly reiterate our call for Congress to build upon DACA’s proven successes to establish a permanent legislative solution that allows Dreamers, with or without DACA, to fully engage in the nation they call home. Yet, even as we await long overdue congressional action, there are other important steps that can and should be taken by higher education leaders and institutions, the Biden administration, and state policymakers. 

Felecia RussellDirector of the Higher Ed Immigration Portal at the Presidents’ Alliance and a DACA recipient, said: 

“I am just one of the many lives transformed by DACA during the past 11 years of its existence. Even if yesterday’s ruling was long expected, it is still disappointing. However, what is imperative right now is that campuses demonstrate their support for the many undocumented students and impacted faculty and staff on their campuses. Two practical and immediate ways to support this community is to issue a statement to the entire campus community, acknowledging the pernicious recent court decision, and emphasizing continued support. Second, gather all institutional, legal and mental health resources to share with your community, one such robust resource can be found on higher ed immigration portal. Finally, please create a safe space for all who are directly affected by the decision.”

According to Diego Sánchez, Director of Policy and Strategy at the Presidents’ Alliance and a former DACA recipient:

“The Biden administration should seek out every opportunity under existing law to strengthen the lives and futures of Dreamers and their ability to work legally and maintain protections from deportations.” (see more in the Presidents’ Alliance’s “Administrative Agenda for Immigration and Higher Education”)

According to Gaby Pacheco, Director of Advocacy, Development, and Communications at TheDream.US and a former DACA recipient:

“The ultimate way forward for Dreamers with and without DACA and the country as a whole remains Congress delivering on the wishes of the strong majority of the American public and enacting an accessible path to citizenship for Dreamers. Yes, it’s a call to action two decades in the making and one that seems almost rote to emphasize given the history of the issue. But we must continue to emphasize that reality. Meanwhile, state policymakers should continue to build on the recent policy successes in states such as Maryland and Massachusetts, and advance licensure, tuition equity, and other policies that empower Dreamers to study, work, and participate more fully in their states while we all call on Congress to do its job and resolve this issue.”

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