Dreaming of a better DACA

Rebecca Baggett

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a program designed to protect eligible immigrant youth in the United States from deportation. Normally students reapply for DACA every two years, but with recent changes, renewal may become impossible.

As of March 2020 there were 8,490 active DACA recipients living in Utah according to the American Immigration Council.
As of March 2020 there were 8,490 active DACA recipients living in Utah according to the American Immigration Council. Photo credit: Alex Guzman

The National Immigration Law Center said, “On July 16, 2021, a U.S. district court in Texas issued a decision and injunction in Texas v. United States, holding that DACA is unlawful but allowing DACA to continue for current recipients and allowing, for now, for continued renewals.”

Cristian Gutierrez, Weber State’s DACA and undocumented specialist in the Office of Access & Diversity, said, “When the Texas judge had a decision made, we were all confused because, according to the decision, he didn’t shut down DACA; he shut down the ability to accept new applications.”

As of July 16, 2021,
As of July 16, 2021, DACA was ruled unlawful, but current recipients of DACA are still allowed to make renewals. This decision was made by a district court in Texas. Photo credit: Alex Guzman

According to the American Immigration Council, as of March 2020, there were 8,490 active DACA recipients living in Utah. These 8,000 Utahns will be affected by the DACA change as well as others who hoped to apply for DACA.

“DACA was accepting new applications again. That really opened the door for a lot of students and individuals who were left out the first time around,” Gutierrez said.

DACA students may not be eligible for federal student aid, but they may be eligible for private scholarships and state/college financial aid.
DACA students may not be eligible for federal student aid, but they may be eligible for private scholarships and state/college financial aid. Photo credit: Alex Guzman

A lot of students jumped at the opportunity to apply for DACA when it was first introduced back in 2012 after President Barack Obama made it official through executive order, Gutierrez said. A lot of other students, on the other hand, didn’t apply due to misinformation.

“The supreme court reopened it. Those persons who saw DACA had benefited others could now apply,” Gutierrez said. “Some folks took the time because you do have to pay a registration fee, and some folks can’t afford that, so they have to save up in order to pay that.”

As of July 16, 2021,
As of July 16, 2021, DACA was ruled unlawful, but current recipients of DACA are still allowed to make renewals. This decision was made by a district court in Texas. Photo credit: Alex Guzman

There are some common misconceptions about DACA, such as what funding these students qualify for. The Federal Student Aid official website provides clarification, saying undocumented students, including DACA students, are not eligible for federal student aid but may be eligible for state or college financial aid, in addition to private scholarships.

DACA students or other individuals looking for alternative options may contact the Financial Aid Office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 801-626-7569.