Undocumented advocates brace for upcoming DACA rule change

By Alisa Reznick
Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2022 - 6:03pm
Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2022 - 7:56am

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DACA protest U.S. Capitol
Protesters march past the U.S. Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2017.

This month the Biden administration is expected to release its new guidelines for DACA. That’s the Obama-era program that gave work permits and temporary protection from deportation to some undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children.

DACA was nearly canceled under the Trump administration. Then a federal court ruling in Texas last year barred first-time applicants. 

Jose Patiño is a DACA recipient in Phoenix who works with the immigrant advocacy group Aliento.

"The community as a whole had a lot of hope, coming after four years of Trump, and all the support that seemed to be for immigrants in general but also very specifically for DACA recipients or DACA eligible youth," he said.  

But a year on, immigration reform measures that could have provided something more permanent for DACA recipients have languished in Congress. 

The administration’s rule change, proposed in September, will formalize DACA protections and first-time applicants will likely be accepted once again. Patiño says ahead of getting details of the final rule, Aliento is focused on helping first-time DACA applicants prepare and advocating for the rule change to expand eligibility to the program.

It’s not the legislative solution Patiño and others wanted, but he says he hopes it will at least provide more stability to some people.