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Would-be DACA recipients file motion for relief as court decision looms

A group of would-be DACA recipients are asking a federal court in New York to allow them to obtain a work permit and temporary protection from deportation as a separate court case decides the future of DACA.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has protected hundreds of thousands of undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children. The program was enacted under former President Barack Obama and turns 10 years old this month. First-time applicants were initially barred under the Trump administration, which tried to cancel the program altogether.

In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled DACA remain in place, and first-time applicants were accepted again by court order by the end of that year. Then, last July, a ruling in Texas halted first-time applications again, arguing DACA was not valid because it was enacted without using proper rule-making procedures — leaving some 80,000 people who'd already applied in limbo. 

The motion filed in New York this week comes from some of those applicants. They argue Citizenship and Immigration Services should continue to adjudicate those pending applications while the Texas case plays out in appeals court. A decision from that case is expected sometime soon and could determine the future of DACA.

Bob Worsley, an Arizona businessman and former Republican state legislator, says the U.S. would benefit from creating legal pathways for immigrants to work. 

"The U.S. economy right now has over 11 million job openings," he said, during a webinar about the future of DACA. "Even in my home state of Arizona, we have almost 200,000 jobs open."

Worsley said DACA recipients could help fill those roles. Still, those opportunities are stalled as the program’s future bounces around in the courts. He said Congress should focus on long-term solutions, like creating a pathway to citizenship.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.