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DACA, Dreamers,

DACA in doubt after court ruling: 3 questions answered

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Author: Kevin Johnson, University of California, Davis

Editor’s note: A federal court in Texas delivered a blow to an Obama-era federal program shielding hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from being deported.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled on July 16, 2021, in Texas v. United States that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was unlawful. Hanen put a hold on new applications. The decision caught many people off guard because, in 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court had rejected then-President Donald Trump’s effort to dismantle DACA, leaving the policy mostly intact.

The federal government under President Joe Biden has been accepting new applications for DACA protections. That must now stop, Hanen ruled.

We asked legal scholar Kevin Johnson, who specializes in immigration law, to explain what impact Hanen’s ruling will have on DACA – and what comes next.

DACA, Dreamers,

Molly Adams from USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

1. If the Supreme Court already ruled DACA could continue, how can it be unlawful?

In Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California, the Supreme Court did not decide whether DACA, established by President Barack Obama in 2012, was lawful. It held only that in its efforts to end DACA, the Trump administration had not followed the proper procedures required by the federal Administrative Procedure Act to terminate the policy.

In a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that President Trump’s attempt to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” because it had failed to adequately account for, among other things, the severe disruption of the lives of DACA recipients who had relied on the program in making life decisions.

By so doing, Trump had violated the Administrative Procedure Act, and, thus, his administration’s attempt to invalidate DACA was unlawful. As a result, the immigrants already protected by DACA would maintain their legal status, and the ruling seemed to require the administration to allow new DACA applications.

But the Trump administration refused to allow new applications to the program.

In Texas v. United States, Judge Hanen reviewed a different decision by a different president – the Biden administration’s decision to resume accepting new DACA applications. But his ruling relied on the Supreme Court’s analysis of President Trump’s attempted termination of DACA.

Hanen found that the Biden administration had not reopened applications following appropriate procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires allowing public notice and comment on the policy. As such, he ruled, the Biden administration could not accept new DACA applications.

2. What does the Texas court’s decision mean for current DACA recipients?

Judge Hanen’s ruling only bars the approval of new DACA applications. It does not eliminate DACA relief for the approximately 690,000 people already enrolled in the program.

Current DACA recipients may still apply for renewals every two years. The Biden administration is likely to grant those renewals absent a change in the applicant’s circumstances, such as a serious criminal conviction.

Put simply, for the time being, current DACA recipients are protected from deportation, but the Biden administration can no longer offer that same protection to other undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children – even if technically it seems they could apply for DACA.

3. What’s next in the DACA debate?

President Biden has said his administration will appeal Judge Hanen’s ruling, and the Supreme Court ultimately could take the case. If the ruling were reversed by a higher court, the Biden administration would be permitted to approve new DACA applications.

The courts aren’t the only place where DACA’s legal problems could be addressed. Biden, immigrant rights advocates and congressional Democrats, including Sen. Dick Durbin, are now calling for lawmakers to pass legislation permanently protecting DACA recipients.

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 – introduced to Congress during President Trump’s campaign to end DACA – would provide a pathway to citizenship for current DACA recipients. That immigration reform would give them lasting legal status, rather than the temporary – and revocable – relief from deportation offered by DACA.

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Kevin Johnson, Dean and Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies, University of California, Davis

NJ Senator Teresa Ruiz is Inspirational Speaker at 2019 Latina SmallBiz Expo

Senator M. Teresa Ruiz was elected as a Democrat to the New Jersey Senate in 2007 and re-elected in 2011, 2013 and 2017. She was elected by her colleagues in January to serve as Senate President Pro Tempore, becoming the first Latina to serve in a leadership position in the New Jersey Senate. Senator Ruiz is chair of the Senate Education Committee. The senator is the author of a law that overhauled the state’s century-old teacher tenure statute. Signed in 2012, the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act put standards in place requiring tenure to be earned and maintained through ongoing performance measurements, but also to ensure that if deficiencies are identified, educators get the help they need. The legislation was endorsed by the state teachers’ union and received unanimous bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

Senator Teresa Ruiz

Senator Ruiz was the prime sponsor of New Jersey’s version of the DREAM Act, a measure designed to provide higher education opportunities to all students in the state. Signed in December 2013, the law makes undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition rates at New Jersey public colleges and universities. The Garden State became the 17th in the nation to legislatively establish tuition equity for DREAMers under the law.

The Senator has led the legislative effort to improve programs and services for children in the state, from prenatal to age 5. This year, she championed and was successful in securing an additional $25 million in the FY 2018 state budget to expand the state’s model quality Pre-K to more school districts. She is the prime sponsor of an ‘early childhood bill package’ to establish full-day kindergarten in all public school districts, fund wrap-around services for preschool children in former Abbott districts, and to help working families through a child care tax credit program. The bill package would also continue the effort to expand Pre-K and create a state Department of Early Childhood. She was also the sponsor of a law to expand the state’s home visitation programs for new mothers to more families.

The Senator has also focused on protecting children with learning disabilities, as well as older New Jerseyans. She sponsored a law to improve programs in public schools to identify students with difficulty reading and to provide them with stronger academic supports. She was the prime sponsor of a bill to create the New Jersey Advisory Council on End-of-Life Care in order to more effectively meet the special needs of those who are approaching the end of life.

Senator Ruiz was the prime sponsor of a 2009 law prohibiting individuals from purchasing more than one handgun in a month. She was also a prime sponsor of “The Opportunity to Compete Act,” the 2014 law more commonly known as “ban the box” which prohibits employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal record during the initial interview process, including on a job application.

Senator Ruiz supporting NJ DREAMers

The Senator was the sponsor of a 2016 law designating a portion of Route 21 in Newark as the “Robert Clemente Memorial Highway” in honor of the sports figure and humanitarian who has served as an inspiration to many New Jersey residents.

She is a founding member of the Robert Treat Academy and also served as a trustee of the Essex County Vocational Technical School. She is vice chair of the Essex County Democratic Party and is deputy chief of staff to Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. She served as an elected delegate at the Democratic National Conventions in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. During the 2012 convention, Senator Ruiz joined education advocates from across the country as a panelist on the Democrats For Education Reform-sponsored education town hall.

The senator was a 2010 Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellow, one of 24 individuals identified by the program’s leadership as America’s emerging political leaders with reputations for intellect, thoughtfulness, and a commitment to civil dialogue. She is a 2014 Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellow, part of a program named for former governors Jim Hunt (D-NC) and Tom Kean (R-NJ) designed for elected officials in the nation who have committed themselves to K-12 policy. Senator Ruiz is also a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.

You might be interested: DREAMers included in NJ Second Year Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG)

DREAMers included in NJ Second Year Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG)

DREAMers are included in the launch of the New Jersey Second Year Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG), “Everyone deserves an opportunity to pursue his or her dreams—whether you are a recent high school graduate or an older student changing your career,” said Governor Murphy. “Our community colleges play a critical role in helping our students build the skillsets they need to meet the demands of a growing and diverse 21st-century economy. CCOG grants provides a pathway to success for both our students and our state as a whole.”

Gov Phil Murphy with NJ DREAMers during last year launch of Alternative Financial Aid Application for New Jersey DREAMers (Photo Credit Official Twitter Site of Gov Phil Murphy).

Governor Phil Murphy visited Middlesex County College, alongside Speaker Craig Coughlin, Executive Director David Socolow of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), and Deputy Secretary Diana Gonzalez of the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE), to encourage students to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application for New Jersey DREAMers by September 15, 2019 in order to be eligible for a Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG).

Free tuition possible in Alternative Application for New Jersey DREAMers

To receive free tuition through CCOG starting in the fall 2019 semester, all students planning to attend a New Jersey county college must meet the September 15, 2019 deadline to complete either FAFSA or the Alternative Application for New Jersey DREAMers.

They also need to respond to all financial aid questions from HESAA or the college they are attending. Students with adjusted gross incomes between $0 and $65,000 may qualify to attend any of New Jersey’s 18 county colleges tuition-free during the upcoming academic year.

Thousands of students will have now the opportunity to enter community colleges in New Jersey through the CCOG Program. (Photo Credit Good Free from Unsplash)

Qualifying county college students who enroll in at least six credits per semester during the fall of 2019 and/or the spring of 2020 will be eligible for Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) awards funded by the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Act signed by Governor Murphy.

For eligible students, “last-dollar” CCOG scholarships will fill in remaining gaps to cover tuition and approved educational fees after accounting for all other grant and scholarship aid for which the students are eligible. Students who have already completed a financial aid application for academic year 2019-2020 will be considered automatically for CCOG eligibility.

“Over 300 Middlesex County College students participated in the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program in the spring 2019 semester, including many who would not have been able to attend if not for CCOG,” said Mark McCormick, President of Middlesex County College. “I believe that CCOG is an investment in our students as they earn an associate degree or industry credential that leads to a career with family-supporting wages.”

CCOG is designed as a last-dollar scholarship, participating students must first apply for all other federal, state, and institutional financial aid grants. As the crucial September 15 application deadline approaches, HESAA is working with county colleges across the state to reach students and help them complete the financial aid forms they need to qualify for free tuition and approved educational fees.

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“Every New Jerseyan, regardless of life circumstances, should have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality credential that prepares them for life after college. Expanding the Community College Opportunity Grant brings our state one step closer to achieving this vision by enabling us to serve more of New Jersey’s community college students,” said Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. “During my spring graduation tour of New Jersey’s colleges, I heard over and over from students for whom free tuition made it possible for them to afford college. I’m excited we are able to continue and expand this fantastic opportunity.”

 

For more information or to RSVP, please visit https://www.hesaa.org/Documents/FAFSA/NJFAFSACompletionEvents2020-2021.pdf.

For detailed information on program parameters and eligibility criteria, please visit www.hesaa.org/Pages/CCOG.aspx