DACA program still in legal limbo, a year after Trump tried to end it

Byby Carlos Saucedo KGO logo
Saturday, September 29, 2018
DACA program still in legal limbo, a year after
The DACA program that allows protection for undocumented youth has been in limbo since last year when President Trump announced plans to phase it out.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The DACA program that shields undocumented young people from deportation and gives them the ability to work legally in the U.S. has been in limbo since last year, when President Trump announced plans to phase it out.

The program still allows recipients to continue renewing their applications.

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DACA has protected around 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

"I think I found out I was undocumented around junior, senior year of high school," said Beatrice Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant.

She moved to Oakland with her family when she was 4 years old. She said she began to understand what her status meant when applying for college.

"That's when I realized it was going to be tough for me because I didn't have a social security number," she recalled.

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In 2013, Sanchez applied for DACA protection so she could stay in the country, free from the fear of being deported.

DACA recipients must renew their application every two years to stay current, but the $500 application fee can be prohibitive.

"I don't make a lot," Sanchez said. "I work paycheck to paycheck, so this is going to help me a lot."

On Thursday, dozens of DACA beneficiaries received help from O'Melveny's legal team in San Francisco.

"We're providing this legal service free of cost to them, and helping them navigate the application forms," said Ashish Sudhakaran, an associate attorney with O'Melveny Law Firm.

While only current recipients can reapply, DACA has been in jeopardy since the Trump administration announced it was rescinding the program in September 2017.

"The problem with DACA is that it's never been written into law," said Ashley Melwani, with Legal Services for Children, a nonprofit that serves youth in San Francisco. "It came about through a presidential action by President Obama, which is why it's always been vulnerable."

While the courts determine the legality of DACA, those caught in the middle are left to wait for a permanent, political fix.

"I think I got a little scared, kind of not knowing what you're future is going to be like," Sanchez said.

For now, all she can do is reapply -- and wait.