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Border & Immigration

Thousands of San Diego residents impacted by latest DACA court ruling

More than 10,000 beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, who live in San Diego County are now in jeopardy thanks to a federal appeals court ruling Wednesday that declared the program unlawful.

“When these legal rulings come down, it may be academic to you and I, but to many of our neighbors this is real life,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria in an interview on KPBS’ Midday program.

There is one positive for current DACA recipients that came out of the ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana. They can continue to renew their status until a lower court considers the program’s future.


DACA has been a temporary program ever since former President Barack Obama created the policy through an executive order in 2012. Currently, more than 590,000 people enrolled in DACA nationwide, according to data from the federal government.

Since then, DACA recipients have been living with temporary legal status but no permanent solution. This decade of uncertainty has impacted people’s mental health.

“Folks are tired,” said Jess Hanson, staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles.

“Individuals who have DACA and who we’ve heard speak out since the decision came down yesterday afternoon have expressed exhaustion, anger, and being burnt out by living between court decision and court decision,” Hanson said.

DACA recipients all over the country now find their legal status in jeopardy again as they wait for another court decision.


The Court of Appeals sent the case back down to a lower court that will consider the legality of administrative changes to DACA made by the Biden Administration.

Hanson said federal lawmakers are the only people who can give DACA recipients a permanent solution.

“It’s urgent, Congress needs to step up and do something about this,” she said. “Folks cannot continue to live this way. It’s not sustainable.”

Gloria echoed Hanson’s calls for Congressional action – not just on DACA but on the entire immigration system.

“As the largest border city in the United States, San Diego sees the failings of our current broken immigration system every single day,” he said. “At some point, there has to be some level of functionality brought to this dysfunctional system.”