Home is Houston

On Thursday, June 18, the Supreme Court ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could continue. A majority of the Court found that the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the program was “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and failed to consider the hardship to DACA recipients. The ruling means that the entire DACA program will be reinstated. For now, DACA recipients will continue to receive the protections and benefits of the program. We expect USCIS to clarify how initial applications and advance parole applications can be submitted in the coming weeks.

DACA survives for the moment, but the fight for justice for DACA recipients and all immigrants continues. That fight iis part of a larger racial justice movement that demands justice, full equality, divestment from racist systems and institutions, and investments in all Black, indigenous, and communities of color.

Currently, there are nearly 33,000 individuals in Houston with DACA. Nationally, nearly 256,000 US-citizen children have at least one parent who is a DACA recipient; across the country, 1.5 million individuals live with a DACA recipient. The Greater Houston area has the fourth largest number of DACA recipients in the country. They have contributed immensely to our local community – they are educators, business owners, doctors and nurses. They are lawyers, fashion designers, musicians, athletes, and military servicemen and women. During Harvey, DACA recipients risked their lives – and in one case, giving it – to keep Houstonians safe. 

During this Coronavirus pandemic, paramedics and nurses and doctors with DACA have stepped up and put their lives on the line. For instance, Javier Quiroz Castro is a  registered nurse who works in a cardiovascular unit, treating patients with COVID-19. There are about 4,300 DACA recipients who work in healthcare in Texas.

DACA recipients are often the sole income-earners in their family, since they have work authorization. DACA recipients are not eligible for federal benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. DACA recipients have been promised safety from deportation, yet ICE has been reopening long-closed cases and detaining DACA recipients. Before the decision was announced, ICE made clear their intent to deport DACA recipients if the program ended. This is just one example of the fact that legal status is not a guarantee of safety for communities of color. Most deportations start with an interaction with a police officer. Calls to disinvest, defund, abolish, and reform policing at all levels – local police, ICE, and CBP –  are all connected to protecting the dignity and rights of all immigrants. 

DACA is an example of a solution that came from directly impacted people, such as  Adan and Melinda, who were seeing the pain of deportation in their communities. DACA is a testament to the power of youth organizing and shows us what happens when the people directly impacted are the ones putting forth the solutions. An individual’s DACA status does not define who they are as a person, and we know that individuals with DACA and their allies – like HILSC and its members organizations – will continue to fight for permanent protections. 

Houstonians can support this critical group and their families in the following ways: 

  1. Contribute to DACA renewal funds
  2. Contribute to organizations providing cash assistance to immigrants impacted by COVID19, listed in our #AllInThisTogether campaign
  3. Refer DACA beneficiaries to HILSC organizations for legal assistance 
  4. Call on city and county elected leaders to enact our proposed local policies, below
  5. Call on Members of Congress and state and local elected officials to demand they take action to protect immigrant youth and their families from deportation. 

We call on elected officials in Harris County and the City of Houston to:

  • Actively work to divest City and County budgets away from policing, incarceration, and collaborations with federal immigration enforcements and revinest those funds into community-designed programs that improve health, housing, environmental justice, safety and wellbeing for all. 
  • Invest heavily in programs that keep immigrant Houstonians safe from deportation. The County must increase its investment in and fully implement the immigration legal defense fund. The City of Houston should join Harris County in investing public dollars into deportation defense.
  • Follow the leadership of community voices and implement a Photo ID program that is accepted by local government and law enforcement. Officials should move rapidly to come together with community-based organizations to work together on a plan.

Local Resources

Legal Resources

  • The Immigrant Rights Hotline makes referrals to HILSC partners that provide free and low-cost immigration legal services. Open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm, 1-833-468-4664. Learn more about the HILSC legal services organizations and the service they offer.

Financial Resources

Immigrant Rising offers webinars on entrepreneurship, income generation, how to get started as an private contractors, income and career alternatives for undocumented students, information about ITINs, Learn more.

Mental Health Resources

[sta_anchor id=”The-Supreme-Court-and-DACA” unsan=”The-Supreme-Court-and-DACA” /]The Supreme Court and DACA

On Thursday, June 18, the Supreme Court ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could continue. A majority of the Court found that the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the program was “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and failed to consider the hardship to DACA recipients. The ruling means that the entire DACA program will be reinstated. For now, DACA recipients will continue to receive the protections and benefits of the program.

Read the Supreme Court DACA opinion.

What does this mean for applicants?

  • If you have been granted DACA status, that status will remain in effect until your renewal date.
  • If you have been granted DACA before, you can continue to renew your DACA.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision means that DACA should be fully reinstated, allowing for first time DACA requests. DHS will need to reopen the DACA policy for new requests consistent with today’s decision. However, this may not happen immediately.
  • Advance parole should be reinstated. DHS will need to reopen the DACA policy for advance parole requests consistent with today’s decision. However, this may not happen immediately.

Opinion Analyses

SCOTUSblog: Opinion Analysis

More links coming soon.

Home is Here Houston / Houston Leads Coalition DACA Decision Response

United We Dream – Top Five Things to Know

[sta_anchor id=”Understanding-DACA” unsan=”Understanding-DACA” /]Understanding DACA

How Did We Get Here?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is an example of a solution that came from people directly impacted, who were seeing the pain of deportation in their communities and mobilized for action. In 2012, President Obama created the program, which allowed for certain youth brought to the US as children to obtain protection from deportation and work permits. 

In September 2017, the Trump administration announced they would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – attempting to end all new applications and renewals. As a result, only 49% of Houston’s estimated 77,000 potentially eligible youth were able to obtain DACA; yet more than 37,000 Houstonians never had the opportunity to apply for DACA for the first time. 

Ending DACA was part of Trump’s plan to grow his deportation force. An ever stronger deportation force threatens all our communities, because It builds up a racist criminal justice system which is dangerous for justice and liberty, and threatens the lives of all people of color. 

Following the administration’s announcement, advocates filed lawsuits over the abrupt end to DACA – which they argued was unconstitutional, unjust and unlawful, as well as arbitrary and capricious. They asked for an injunction, which was partially granted. Renewals were able to continue, though no new application could be filed, until the lawsuit is ultimately resolved by the Supreme Court. A decision is expected this month (June 2020). 

DACA 101

FWD.us and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) offer a comprehensive overview of the DACA program, including resources and information on renewals. Visit FWD.us and the National Immigration Law Center to learn more.

[sta_anchor id=”dreamers-stories” unsan=”dreamers-stories” /]Dreamers Stories

Houston Dreamers

Houston hosts the 4th largest population of DACA recipients in the United States. Over 32,000 Dreamers call Houston home.

Houston Dreamers on the COVID-19 Frontlines

Texas Dreamers

More than 106,000 DACA recipients call Texas home. They are parents to 52,000 U.S.-born children; 241,000 individuals in the state live with a DACA recipient. Each year, Texas DACA-recipient households pay $705.2 million in federal taxes and $409.9 million in state and local taxes.

For more information visit the Center for American Progress

National Stories

The DACA program created opportunities for recipients to make an impact in healthcare, education, science, technology, etc. Get to know Dreamers through the Home is Here campaign and FWD.us

[sta_anchor id=”National-Resources” unsan=”National-Resources” /]National Resources

Below you will find national resources and materials related to the DACA program

Home is Here is a coalition of organizations fighting to protect DACA recipients and their families.

FWD.us is a bipartisan organization working to reform immigration and criminal justice systems. Available resources include:

United We Dream is the nation’s largest immigrant youth-led campaign to empower immigrants and fight for justice and dignity. Available resources include:

Informed Immigrant, resources and information for the undocumented community

Center for American Progress is a progressive policy institute. Available resources include:

Immigrant Legal Resource Center is a hub of resources on immigration law and policy for practitioners.

Migration Policy Institute is organization using data to improve immigration policy. Available resources include: