Nonprofit, congressman putting DACA hopes in legislators' hands, not courts

Federal judge blocks end of DACA as Congress debates reform

SAN ANTONIO – To RAICES, a nonprofit that works with immigrants, a federal judge's ruling that the Trump administration must keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program going as arguments go through the court is vindication, but not a victory.

Judge blocks Trump administration plan to roll back DACA

"The judge has ordered the government to set up process to accept those renewals again," said Justin Tullius, the group's associate executive director. "But that's what we're waiting on the government to do. And right now, it's not clear what the next steps are going to be."

The Trump administration had announced plans in September to phase out DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, spawning numerous lawsuits.

Judge William Alsup ruling in five separate cases on Tuesday requires the Trump administration maintain the DACA program as the lawsuits progress through the courts.

There are exceptions. The Trump administration is not required to let DACA recipients leave the country and return under what was called "advance parole." Nor does it have to process new applications from people who weren't previously in the program.

Trump calls for DACA fix, still wants wall in bipartisan immigration talk

At the same time, Congress is negotiating DACA policy, among other immigration issues.

That's where both Tullius and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-TX 28, are placing their hopes.

Cuellar thinks the lawsuit gives legislators some extra time as they work on immigration reform, which he sees as the only way to find a final solution.

"I think even if you've got that court, we gotta make sure Congress sits down and works something out," Cuellar said.

Cuellar was among the legislators who sat down with President Trump on Tuesday as they discussed immigration reform. Trump proposed a two-phase approach: DACA first and then what he called "comprehensive immigration"

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told media following the meeting that leadership had agreed to negotiate four issues: border security, so-called "chain" migration, the visa lottery, and DACA policy.

"Let's focus, and if we focus on these four issues I think we can come up with an agreement," Cuellar said of the upcoming talks.

As DACA recipients wait for the courts to work through the issue, Tullius said they're already standing up, which RAICES encourages.

"We're calling on communities to know their rights, organize here in San Antonio, and be ready for whatever the courts may say and to continue calling on Congress," he said.

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