DES MOINES, Iowa — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, provides security for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as toddlers. However, there is now renewed concern that DACA could be abolished by the courts.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a federal district judge in Texas should take another look at the DACA program, which has left it in judicial limbo. While DACA recipients remain protected, the program is not accepting any new applicants.
The Department of Homeland Security reports there are more than 2,000 active DACA recipients, or “dreamers,” in Iowa. The program allows undocumented immigrants to establish a temporary residency for work, education, and other legal tasks.
Ana Delgado immigrated from Juarez, Mexico to Iowa at the age of 2 and was in the DACA program before establishing permanent residency in Des Moines. She worries about what could happen to immigrants like her if DACA is abolished by the judicial system.
“Knowing the history of where I’m from, I know that I have to do anything that I can to secure my spot here,” Delgado said. “I can’t afford to go back. I can’t afford to start over somewhere that I know is dangerous to me.”
Delgado said the constant fear of deportation as a child left its mark on her and other undocumented immigrants.
“Since I was a kid, when a cop passes by in their car, we’d always get very scared because we just never know,” Delgado said.
She hopes that the United States establishes a clear road to citizenship for DACA recipients, and explained that her younger sister has an easier time in Iowa because she was born in the country.
“My sister got a full ride to college and all of these other opportunities that I could have had as well,” Delgado said. “Just because someone doesn’t have legal papers, that doesn’t mean they’re less of a human.”
The Supreme Court is expected to take up the legality of DACA for a third time.