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The future of DACA is in limbo. And with it, the future of 'Dreamers' like Karina Ruiz

Karina Ruiz
Matthew Casey/KJZZ
editorial | staff
Karina Ruiz, executive director of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition.

The future of hundreds of thousands of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is now in the hands of a panel of judges in New Orleans.

Earlier this month, the three-judge panel heard appeals by the Biden administration, left-leaning states and some DACA recipients who are attempting to keep the program alive after a district court judge ruled the program unlawful last year.

Since that decision, the Department of Homeland Security has been able to renew DACA permits for people already enrolled in the program, but anyone who has applied in that time has been stuck in a state of limbo as the department is now barred from accepting any new applications.

Politico reported the panel of judges appeared unconvinced by the Justice Department’s arguments. And Karina Ruiz sat in the courtroom while it all played out.

Ruiz is one of the plaintiffs in the case — a "Dreamer" who has been in the country for more than two decades. Her parents brought her here when she was just 15 years old, and she said she remembers the journey.

This was in 1999, more than a decade before President Barack Obama would introduce the DACA program. By the time that happened, she was 28 years old. She had already lived through the failure of the DREAM Act and the passage of Proposition 300 in Arizona, which tripled her college tuition when 70% of Arizona voters agreed that undocumented students shouldn’t get in-state tuition.

DACA was what she called the "light of hope" she had been waiting for all these years. Now, she’s been living here under the protection of the program for another decade.

The Show spoke with her about how much of her life has been dictated by this policy, and her work with the next generation of DACA recipients.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.