Demonstrators hold signs and chant during a Defend DACA rally.
Demonstrators hold signs and chant during a Defend DACA rally. (Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)

Earlier this month, in a blow to DACA applicants, a federal court in Houston, Texas ruled against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. Though current DACA recipients are not affected, new applications will no longer be processed, which harms immigrants who are now not qualified for protection against deportation. 

Over the past few weeks, CAA has joined immigration advocates in San Francisco and throughout the U.S. to denounce the decision.  Our immigrant rights team has taken steps to educate Chinese communities about what happens next, and what it will mean for their families. You can check out our one-pager on the DACA program to understand how you or someone you know might be impacted. 

What happened?

On July 16th, 2021, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled against the DACA program despite an earlier U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2021 that rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the DACA program. 

The decision will not affect the 690,000 current DACA recipients who can continue to renew their status every two years. However, a backlog of renewal applications could mean that 13,000 current recipients could fall out of status. President Biden has since directed U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to mobilize resources to reviewing renewal applications, but thousands of renewal applications remain. 

For new DACA applicants the path forward is even worse. The court ruling excludes from consideration thousands of backlogged applications — including applications that were submitted prior to the ruling. In other words, while current DACA recipients will continue to be protected from deportation, for the time being, new and pending applicants will not. 

What’s next? 

In a statement, President Biden called the ruling “deeply disappointing.” He also announced plans for the Department of Justice to appeal the decision.  This process could take months. 

Separately, House and Senate Democrats have plans to include immigration reforms, such as a pathway to citizenship for current DACA recipients, in an upcoming spending bill. Success, however, is far from guaranteed.

What is CAA doing to respond? 

In a statement to ethnic press, CAA Immigrant Rights Program Manager Jose Ng called the ruling, “immoral and rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment.”  Added CAA Immigrant Rights Advocate Olivia Zheng, “the federal government must act to pass permanent solutions for undocumented communities in the form of a pathway to citizenship.”  CAA is joining dozens of immigrant rights advocates in highlighting the harm to all communities including the tens of thousands of Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrants who are directly impacted. .

Through a combination of community briefings, legal consultations, media outreach, and state and federal advocacy, CAA is educating and informing community members about these and other changes to state and federal immigration law and continuing to press for comprehensive immigration reform.  For more information, community members can: 

Read our updated one-pager on the DACA program (in English and Chinese).  

Subscribe to our in-language (Cantonese) podcast about state and local affairs. 

Connect with low-cost and well-trusted immigrant legal service providers at (415)-761-3222.