Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
In September 2017, President Trump abruptly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, upending the lives of 700,000 Dreamers – young people who were brought to this country as children without documentation. Overnight, thousands of DACA recipients learned they only had weeks to renew their two-year work permits before the program would end. This reckless move came after already ramped-up enforcement efforts that resulted in the wrongful arrest of numerous DACA recipients. Earlier in the year, Public Counsel defended Daniel Ramirez Medina, a DACA recipient placed in removal proceedings despite his lawful status.
The Administration’s decision to end DACA was an affront to justice. The government had promised dreamers that if they came out of the shadows and followed the program’s rules, they would be allowed to stay in the United States free from the fear of deportation. Dreamers kept their end of the bargain, but the government broke its word. Public Counsel reacted swiftly and on multiple fronts.
To help those eligible for renewal, Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project sprang into action, holding a series of DACA Renewal Clinics. Because of the extraordinary efforts of staff and volunteers, we helped 200 DACA recipients file their renewal paperwork before the deadline, and thanks to generous donors, we covered all participants’ $495 filing fee.
Shortly after, Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law represented Six Dreamers to file suit against the federal government. The “Dreamers case” was the first lawsuit from DACA recipients to challenge the Trump Administration’s cruel and unjust decision to end DACA. Their suit, Garcia v. United States, resulted in a nationwide injunction that blocked the Trump Administration from ending DACA for over two years. In 2020, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of our clients – delivering a victory for DACA recipients, their families, and communities across the country.