Queens Daily Eagle: Queens DACA applicants wonder what comes next after federal ruling

Queens Daily Eagle: Queens DACA applicants wonder what comes next after federal ruling | July 2021: A federal judge’s ruling that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is illegal has reverberated to the shores of Queens.

The ruling, made by Texas Judge Andrew Hanen, halted the approval of tens of thousands of immigrants who applied for temporary status under DACA and prevented others who may qualify under the program from submitting an application.

In Queens, potential DACA recipients, who are undocumented but brought to the United States as children, now worry that they’ll be unable to attend college or participate in the workforce and are fearful that they’ll eventually be deported from the only country they’ve ever truly known.

“When the news came that they stopped taking applications, it was a blow,” said Joe, a Flushing resident whose name has been changed to protect his identity. “It’s kind of hard to take in.”

Joe is one of an estimated 72,000 potential DACA recipients living in New York, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute. At 18-years-old, he applied for DACA for the first time in January 2021. He, as well as tens of thousands of others across the country who began the application process before Hanen’s decision but had yet to be accepted, are in a state of limbo.

Without DACA, Joe would be unable to access federal student loans, which he’ll need to attend Queens College next year and eventually, dental school, which he hopes to attend in the future. Being accepted to the program would also grant him a social security number, an important thing to have while applying to jobs.

“I wouldn't have any words to be able to describe how much [being approved for DACA] would mean to me because it's that important,” he said. “It’s just something that would facilitate everything, whether it comes to school, the opportunities you can get, like internships, and getting a career.”

Joe’s parents immigrated to the United States from Ecuador when he was a baby and his home in Queens is “all [he’s] ever known.” He has two younger siblings, both of whom were born in the U.S.

“My siblings never saw me as an undocumented person, they see me as their big brother, they look up to me and I try to set the best example I can for them,” he said. “At home, [it doesn’t matter], until you really hit the outside world.”

‘In the same situation’

Several organizations in Queens and in New York City have provided aid to DACA recipients and potential DACA recipients since the program first began in 2012.

Queens Community House, located in Forest Hills, offers legal assistance to people applying to DACA.

“So many young kids were expecting to have their work authorization and their social security,” said Carmen Gutierrez, the immigrant services coordinator at Queens Community House. “Unfortunately, because of this situation, their dream has been stopped.”

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