On DACA’s ninth anniversary, activists and lawmakers push for a pathway to citizenship


Nine years ago, DACA was officially signed into law by President Obama. Since that time, DACA has faced several legal battles, and there is still a Texas case pending that could upend the entire program. This is why several democratic lawmakers spoke in Washington about the need to pass legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants.

The Dream and Promise Act, an immigration bill which would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) passed the U.S. House earlier this year. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the legislation. The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dick Durbin, sponsored the first DREAM Act (also known as The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) twenty years ago.

Several of the testimonials in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing came from those that would benefit from the Dream and Promise Act, including a registered nurse and TPS holder who was on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the hearing, Durbin reiterated his calls for the Senate to join the House in passing the Dream and Promise Act.

At the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris also met with a group that would be impacted by the passage of the Dream and Promise Act, including two DACA recipients.

The biggest threat to DACA is currently in the state of Texas. In May 2018, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led a seven-state lawsuit against DACA. Ultimately, Texas v. United States was stayed in the Southern District of Texas, as the Supreme Court took up the case in their last session. The Supreme Court, in June 2020, decided in a 5-4 ruling that the Trump administration’s reasoning for terminating DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act. That ruling kept in place legal protections for more than 650,000 young immigrants.

Now, another DACA case is back in the Texas court system (again thanks to Paxton). At a status hearing in March, US District Judge Andrew Hanen did not rule on the legality of DACA, but it seems likely another ruling could possibly happen in the next few days.

While the celebrations about DACA’s anniversary continue, many Texas leaders are noting that the protections in the program are the floor, not the ceiling. Rep. Joaquin Castro echoed Durbin about the need for the Senate to pass the Dream and Promise Act.

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

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