Since then, legislators have been slowly working on a deal that would grant legal status to the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients. On Tuesday, the president met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss the program, though the session ended with more questions than answers about enrollees’ future.
With the March deadline looming, immigration advocates have been pressuring Congress to come to an agreement. According to estimates from the liberal Center for American Progress, 122 DACA recipients lose protections daily. Though the new court order means they can apply for a two-year renewal, that’s little comfort to some.
“I think it’s frustrating because we can’t use this injunction to plan out our lives,” said Bruna Bouhid, a DACA recipient and communications manager for United We Dream, the largest immigrant-youth organization in the country. “We can’t rely on injunctions. We can’t rely on rulings. We need something that’s a law—we need legislation.”
Advocates are urging lawmakers to pass the Dream Act, a measure first introduced in 2001 that would grant legal status to immigrants, like DACA enrollees, who were brought to the country illegally as children. Democrats want to add the legislation to a longer-term spending bill that needs to be passed on January 19 to avert a government shutdown. On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter: “The only way to guarantee peace of mind & legal status for the #Dreamers is to pass DACA protections into law. A resolution to the #DACA issue must be part of a global deal on the budget.” Some advocates think the recent injunction could underscore the urgency of finding a legislative fix.
“The negotiations need to move even quicker to make sure that we don’t prolong this into a long legal battle in the courts,” said Juan Escalante, a DACA recipient and communications manager at the immigrant-rights group America’s Voice. Instead, the matter should be handled through “our legislative process to make sure we get the best outcome possible.”
Maria Praeli, a DACA enrollee who works as an immigration-policy associate at FWD.us, a pro-immigration group, concurred. “I think [the judge’s] order is a powerful indication of the need to protect Dreamers,” she told me. “It doesn’t change the urgency.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the injunction on Wednesday, saying the administration “find[s] this decision to be outrageous, especially in light of the president’s successful bipartisan meeting with House and Senate members at the White House on the same day.” She added: “An issue of this magnitude must go through the normal legislative process. President Trump is committed to the rule of law, and will work with members of both parties to reach a permanent solution that corrects the unconstitutional actions taken by the last administration.”