For indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the purpose in part of his latest lawsuit against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is to continue solidifying his extremist credentials. For the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who’ve benefitted from the program, it’s continued uncertainty and stress—and a continued attack against their very place in this nation.
“We really see the cruelty of what Texas and the other plaintiffs are asking for, it’s just anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Juliana Macedo do Nascimento tells The Guardian. She’s called the U.S. home since she was a teenager, and is currently protected by DACA through 2024. Texas’ lawsuit seeks to stop all renewals by two years of a court decision. “It’s all part of this narrative that mostly brown people shouldn’t be in this country,” Macedo do Nascimento went on.
Paxton and eight other states have taken their case to a handpicked Texas judge with a history of ruling against pro-immigrant policy, notably a Obama-era policy that would’ve extended DACA-type protections to the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. That case was—shocker!—also led by Texas. GOP states are now back in front of Hanen to not only ask him to rule that the new DACA-related regulation issued by the Biden administration is unlawful, but that DACA renewals should stop entirely by two years of a ruling.
This would throw hundreds of thousands of lives into chaos—and Republicans know that, and want it. They also know that DACA recipients pump hundreds of millions in tax dollars into local and state coffers, yet still use this trope that immigrants are somehow hurting their states as their legal argument in court. No, it’s the states that are hurting immigrants. Texas alone has filed more than 20 immigration-related lawsuits that have most recently sought to block the expanded parole program for Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan migrants.
“DACA recipients are allowed to buy houses, buy cars, and have these long-term debts,” Macedo do Nascimento noted. In Texas, more than 11,000 DACA recipients are homeowners. “But we can’t plan a family. We deserve a path to citizenship, it will allow us to have a sense of security.” Juan Jose Martinez-Guevara wrote in Texas Signal last December that he was “tired of the back and forth. Court decision after court decision, we find ourselves in a constant state of uncertainty and instability.”
They just want the chance to plan ahead without having to factor in the whims of one right-wing judge that may reside in a whole different state thousands of miles away from them. While Texas has one of the largest populations of DACA recipients in the nation, beneficiaries are in every single state in the nation. But a DACA recipient in Alaska (home to 80 beneficiaries) or Maine (home to 40 beneficiaries) may be unsure about starting a family because one judge in Houston may revoke his or her deportation protections and work permit. “I can’t plan ahead because my future consists of judges’ decisions,” Areli Hernandez, who’s been here since the age of 5, told The Guardian. “I want to make choices that don’t depend on my card and an expiration date.”
U.S. House Speaker-for-Now Kevin McCarthy and other congressional Republicans stand to be complicit in mass deportations despite not having direct involvement in Texas’ lawsuit. He’s repeatedly promised as part of his corrupt bargaining to not pass “amnesty.” In the U.S. Senate, Republicans derailed an immigration framework that would have coupled border measures with permanent protections for DACA recipients. In the last congress, 10 Senate Republican would also not join Democrats to break the Jim Crow filibuster and pass legislation like the Dream and Promise Act.
“We are nurses, teachers, artists, community organizers, and yet, so much more than that,” Martinez-Guevara continued. “We are your family, friends, and neighbors. As a Texan, it’s especially hurtful to see our attorney general lead the fight to put hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and DACA-eligible youth like myself at risk of detention and deportation all around the country.”
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