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San Antonio dreamer worries what DACA ruling means for immigration solutions

A San Antonio woman says DACA was her pathway to graduating from UTSA, and hopes for a permanent solution to be created with DACA on halt.

SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio dreamer worries the latest DACA ruling could jeopardize thousands of people's futures.

A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday that the DACA program is illegal, although President Joe Biden plans to appeal the ruling. 

San Antonio is home to Andrea Ramos Fernandez, who moved here from Mexico City when she was nine years old.

She remembers getting approved for DACA in her junior year of high school.

"[I got it] literally at the perfect time where every high schooler starts doing new things like learning how to drive, getting their first part-time job, for the first time during that time I felt like I was a regular teenager, that I didn't have to hide this big portion of myself," Ramos Fernandez recalls.

After graduating high school, she went to UTSA where she says she was an immigration activist. She now works for a national non-profit and discusses how immigration impacts daily life. She will be pursuing her Masters on a full-ride scholarship at NYU this fall.

"Obviously, it led me to where I am today," Ramos Fernandez said.

She was prepared for the worst-case scenario after Judge Andrew Hanen ruled the DACA program was illegal.

“I’m not going to lie, I’ve been crying for the last couple of days because, I know these kids, I know what it feels like to have that dash of hope completely extinguished,” Ramos Fernandez said.

In his ruling, Judge Hanen wrote DACA recipients won't be affected, saying "it is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such significant reliance to terminate suddenly."

The ruling prevents the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to stop accepting new applications and pause its review of applications in progress.

The federal government estimates there are 1.3 million people in the country eligible for DACA benefits.

Daniel Hatoum is a litigation staff attorney for RAICES, and he says there's a lot of uncertainty for people waiting on approval.

“There was a huge backlog of those [applications] because of the pandemic and that group of persons is going to have to wait to an unspecified point in the future until the courts work out whether or not DACA is a legal program or until Congress acts,” Hatoum said.

RAICES says there are over 50,000 DACA applications submitted this year alone.

"However, because of the Supreme Court's DACA decision from June 2020, DHS can continue accepting new applications. But under Judge Hanen’s order from today, it cannot grant them unless this court, or a higher court, decides that it can," a statement from RAICES says.

While nothing changes for current DACA recipients like Ramos Fernandez, she says it affects people across the San Antonio community.

"I'm seeing how this decision is literally impeding the success and the accomplishments of young people," Ramos Fernandez adds.

"We all need to advocate at least for a permanent solution for the hundreds of thousands of dreamers, the essential workers, the farm workers and any other undocumented immigrant that would benefit from some sort of solution."

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