DENVER — A lawsuit moving forward in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals could upend the lives of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients across the country.
DACA recipients include people who were brought to the U.S. as children before June 2007. The DACA program allows them to remain in the U.S. while working or going to school. They must re-apply for the program every two years.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, along with 23 other attorneys general, penned a brief urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court's decision to end the program.
"Many of the Dreamers feel like they've been forgotten," said Arturo Jimenez, a Colorado-based immigration lawyer.
Jimenez said the case could ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"In the worst case scenario, if DACA has been declared to have been unlawfully implemented, then there would be some type of termination of the program," he said.
If DACA was terminated, recipients, also known as Dreamers, could be forced out of the U.S.
"We are defending the DACA program," said Weiser. "This program protects the Dreamers. President Biden has adopted regulations saying that in terms of people who might be deported, the last people in line are the Dreamers — people who've only known this country. People who want the chance to work, to serve in the military, to be a part of our nation. The DACA program, it gives them that peace of mind. It protects them."
According to the American Immigration Council, 14,520 active DACA recipients lived in Colorado as of March 2020.
Jimenez said now is not the time to get behind on DACA renewals.
"DACA recipients really need to stay vigilant and stay on top of renewal," he said.
While Jimenez said there is not a direct pathway to citizenship through DACA, he said recipients should contact an attorney to see if there is another way for them to legally stay in the U.S. in the event the program is terminated in the future.
"They shouldn't panic," he said. "They should just make sure that they find out what options they might have."
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is hosting a free legal workshop on Saturday, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Arapahoe Library - Eloise May Branch, located at 1471 S. Parker Road in Denver.