New London reacts to most recent DACA ruling

New London — When he started getting news alerts about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program late Tuesday, immigration attorney Mike Doyle initially was excited.

A federal judge, the alerts said, had ordered the Trump administration to continue the Obama-era program. Known as DACA, it allows certain young, undocumented immigrants to work legally and live without fear of deportation.

About 800,000 people participate in the program, which has been up in the air since September, when President Donald Trump decided to phase it out.

Doyle, who runs the Immigration Advocacy and Support Center, spends about one-third of his time working on DACA-related cases. Upon further examination of the judge's 60-page ruling, Doyle said Wednesday that it's clear DACA's future remains uncertain.

“This is far, far away from a final order,” Doyle said of the decision, issued Tuesday by Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.

In short, Bates found that the Trump administration, which struck down DACA for being unlawful, failed to say why it was unlawful. Rather than immediately ordering the administration to continue DACA, however, Bates gave officials 90 days to better explain why they ended the program.

To satisfy the court, Doyle said, the Trump administration would have to outline just one way DACA is unlawful. Officials could do that by showing it’s in conflict with the Immigration and Nationality Act, for example, or by finding that it violates the president’s duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

“I’m not telling anybody to throw confetti in the air,” said Doyle, who for months has been helping DACA participants renew their status.

Doyle also has encouraged potential DACA recipients to prepare their materials just in case the program starts accepting new applicants again. It's a modus operandi he plans to continue going forward, despite his reservations.

“The court specifically outlined the deficiencies” of the DACA rescission, Doyle said. “If I’m sitting on the other side reading this ruling, I would say, ‘Great, we’ve got a roadmap here — now it’s time to go to work.’”

New London colleges respond

Like Doyle, city colleges were cautious in their response to Tuesday’s ruling. 

At Mitchell College, where there are “very few” DACA students, officials said only that they’d continue to work “with each student’s particular circumstances to help them navigate whatever obstacles they face to obtaining a successful college education."

In an emailed statement, John McKnight Jr., dean of institutional equity and inclusion at Connecticut College, called on academics to be relieved for the moment but “remain attentive to this issue for the near and long-term future."

"I am sure that this news will put many of our students and their family members at ease for the time being,” he said, “and for that I am truly grateful."

Paloma Camarena is one of those students. She came to Chicago with her family on a tourist visa when she was 11 months old. The United States is all she has known.

Camarena said DACA gave her the chance to get a state identification card, which in turn gave her the ability to fly to Connecticut for college. Because of DACA, she has been able to apply for internships and to work legally, earning money for books and other living expenses.

Because of a separate court finding against Trump’s DACA rescission, Camarena was able to renew her DACA status a couple months ago — something DACA recipients must do every two years, paying almost $500 each time.

Now, with the clock ticking and no permanent solution in sight, Camarena is feeling the pressure.

“I am thankful for DACA and everything it has given me,” she said, “but I am tired that this is something temporary. It’s just an executive order and anything can happen at any time.”

Camarena said she longs for legislators to take up immigration reform and include a resolution for the hundreds of thousands of people under DACA’s umbrella.

“I just wish there was something else, some kind of reform, to help solve this problem on a much bigger scale,” she said.

l.boyle@theday.com

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