Summit County officials express approval for court order temporarily protecting Dreamers |

Summit County officials express approval for court order temporarily protecting Dreamers

Estefania Baray, a Summit County recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy enacted by President Obama in 2012, now has a legal status to be in the United States. She was pictured here in September 2017 while pursuing her associate's degree at Colorado Mountain College.
Hugh Carey / |

A federal district judge in California issued a nationwide injunction Tuesday night temporarily blocking the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action on Child Arrivals program, or DACA.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered that protections remain in place for the estimated 690,000 DACA recipients nationwide while lawsuits make their way through the courts.

The program, which was started by President Obama in 2012, has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people who arrived without legal status as children to stay and work in the country under certain conditions, such as going to school, having a job, and having a clean criminal record.

Summit County leaders and experts expressed unanimous approval for the injunction, but also urged caution as it is only temporary and that the futures of many young people are still in limbo. More than 17,000 DACA recipients, informally known as Dreamers, live and work in Colorado, with 200 estimated to be living in Summit County.

Commissioner Dan Gibbs said he was “immensely relieved and excited” by the court ruling.

“DACA is a common-sense, compassionate program that makes our communities and our economy stronger,” he said. “For so many of these Dreamers, the United States is the only country they’ve ever really known, and it makes zero sense to force them to live in the shadows.”

Gibbs also thanked Senators Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner for their efforts to protect DACA, as both senators expressed rare shared bipartisan support for continuing the program back in September.

Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said she was “delighted” by the news as well, but is bitterly disappointed by how little Congress has done to protect DACA recipients and young people across the board. “I think it’s outrageous that they’re doing nothing to protect children’s welfare, whether it’s DACA or CHIP [Child Health Insurance Program].”

However, the court ruling is only temporary, and subject to review by higher courts. Additionally, the ruling is narrow in scope, only protecting existing Dreamers and only allowing renewal applications for those whose statuses expire within six months.

Judy Phillips, a DOJ-accredited immigration attorney for the non-profit Bethany Immigration Services based in Frisco, confirmed that current DACA recipients facing imminent expiration would be eligible to apply for renewal. “USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services) has just sent out a directive allowing renewals,” she said. “I’m hoping they’ll eventually allow new applications on top of the renewals.”

Uncertainty lingers for Dreamers going forward. Even if they maintain their status past the original program end date of March 5, there is no telling when or whether DACA will be renewed or whether Congress will finally pass actual legislation to give the program proper legal status. Until they have official legal status, they may be subject to deportation at any time after their status expires.

Gibbs said Congress should use Colorado’s example in finding a bipartisan solution.

“We can still anticipate a lot of legal wrangling over the DACA issue, and Dreamers still need and deserve strong support from Congress,” he said. “I hope other members of Congress come around to seeing this the way we do here in Colorado, as a bipartisan issue.”

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