Castillo: We have heard the promises before and nothing has happened

Hugo Balta

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is back.

The most recent federal court ruling was a win for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, but the path to permanent respite remains marred with political and legal obstacles. DACA has been in limbo — tied up in court — ever since President Donald Trump tried to end the program three years ago.

Eva Castillo, director at the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, tells the Public News Service (PNS) she wants the incoming Joe Biden administration to halt all deportations while they unwind many of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.

“And then I would like to see a path to citizenship for the millions of people that are here, undocumented, working and contributing to our society,” Castillo said. Trump has said undocumented immigrants take jobs from U.S. citizens and threaten public safety.

Last week, a federal court in New York ordered the Trump administration to reinstate the DACA program — an Obama-era initiative that has allowed around 646,000 immigrants to stay in the country and work legally as long as they meet certain eligibility conditions. An estimated 685,000 additional people may be able to apply for DACA under the new ruling.

Castillo estimates there are around 400 DACA recipients living in New Hampshire, and she thinks about 400 more now may be willing to come out of the shadows under a friendlier administration and apply for DACA.

“I just want to make sure that the administration doesn’t just stay in the promise phase,” she said. “I want to see some action. Because we have heard the promises before and nothing has happened.”

Castillo said the status quo cannot stand. And she is renewing her call for Congress to make immigration reform a priority.

Biden has promised to send a comprehensive immigration reform bill to Congress within his first 100 days in office that would include a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. as children.