Upcoming Supreme Court decision creates more uncertainty for DACA students

The Immigration Response Team at the University of Minnesota is encouraging DACA students to reapply early in case the program is terminated.


Illustrated by Morgan La Casse

by Katrina Pross

With the Supreme Court’s announcement late last month to review the decision to terminate DACA, recipients remain in limbo as they await the program’s fate. 

In light of this decision, the general advice given to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is to renew their status just in case the program is terminated, even if their status is not near expiration. The University of Minnesota’s Immigration Response Team is also recommending students consider reapplying early and has funding available to help students pay the filing costs.

Recipients have to renew their DACA status every two years and it costs almost $500 each time. University students can apply for funding to help pay for the costs through The Dream Fund, which is run by the response team and provides funding for students. 

However, every DACA student’s situation is different, so not every recipient may need to file for renewal, said Marissa Hill-Dongre, the director of the response team. But the University can help students decide if renewing is the right step to take, she said. 

“We want to make sure DACA students are informed about where they stand and that they have reliable information,” Hill-Dongre said. “Immigration advice is different for everyone.”

Created in 2012 under the Obama Administration, DACA protects some individuals who came to the United States unlawfully, such as those who were brought to the country as children, from deportation and provides them eligibility for a work permit. Those who qualified for the program had to be younger than 16 years old when they came to the United States.  

President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he hopes to end the program, sparking nationwide backlash and efforts to keep it alive. Federal courts blocked Trump from ending DACA, and the Supreme Court announced it will likely decide by June 2020 if Trump can terminate the program, according to the Associated Press.

Anne Applebaum, an attorney at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, said their office has seen over 160 cases for DACA renewal in 2019. Legal assistance is not required to renew DACA, but many recipients come with questions. Applebaum said whenever a decision or announcement is made that creates uncertainty about DACA’s future, the center usually sees a surge of people coming in for help. 

“The limbo DACA recipients are forced to live under is highly traumatic, as far as planning their lives, having stability and pursuing their dreams. It’s day-to-day uncertainty that no one deserves and should have to go through,” Applebaum said. 

Having status in the U.S. gives people more standing and confidence to secure rights to housing, credit, jobs and fair wages, said Deepinder Mayell, executive director for the University’s James H. Binger Center for New Americans. 

“Status is a fundamental cornerstone in the United States, and is the most essential piece to ensure people can be fully integrated in society,” Mayell said. “[The uncertainty surrounding DACA] creates a great deal of stress and anxiety … It’s astonishing that it’s being jeopardized.”