Arkansas DACA recipients concerned after Texas federal judge rules program illegal

Northwest Arkansas News

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The latest court ruling that declared DACA illegal is having repercussions in the Natural State.

A federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Obama administration failed to follow federal administrative rules in launching the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program back in 2012.

DACA is only for people who immigrate to the U.S. before their 16th birthday. It allows them to get a temporary deportation stay against deportation for two years at a time. DACA recipients can apply for a driver’s license in some states.

Diego Quinones is a DACA recipient who lives in Northwest Arkansas. He came to the U.S. from Mexico with his family when he was just 7-years-old and said that DACA was lifesaving for him.

“It gives you peace of mind,” said Quinones. “You know, folks like me that arrived in this country at a very early age, the United States is all I know. Like, I know Springdale, I know Bentonville, I know Little Rock. I’ve been to the state capitol, Jonesboro, all over the state”

Quinones said his DACA designation allowed him to be able to go to the University of Arkansas and to live in Washington, D.C. for a year.

According to the American Immigration Council, more than 4,400 active DACA recipients live in Arkansas as of March 2020. More than 5,400 Arkansans have been granted DACA protection since 2012.

“These are people your children went to school with, they are active members of society who have a big economic impact,” he said.

DACA recipients are required to pay federal income tax. According to the institute on taxation and economic policy, people in DACA contribute an estimated $1.7 billion a year in state and local taxes.

Quinones urges people to contact their representatives in Congress about the ruling. The new ruling does not affect those who are already in the program. However, it does stop any new people from being able to enroll.

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