Immigration advocates head to New Orleans as federal court hears oral arguments in DACA case

Rosie Nguyen Image
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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Houston immigration advocates head to New Orleans as federal court hears oral arguments in Texas case challenging DACA's legality.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Dozens of Houston's immigration advocates will be heading to New Orleans overnight, as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear oral arguments in the Texas case challenging the legality of DACA. FIEL Houston and Woori Juntos, the two organizations participating in this trip, said they will be marching and rallying outside the courthouse during the hearing on Wednesday morning.

FIEL Houston's executive director, Cesar Espinosa says this hearing is personal. As a "Dreamer" or DACA recipient, he said if the program is rescinded, the impact would extend beyond the immigrant community.

"It's important for us because our lives are at stake. If this court gives a bad ruling, then obviously, we're going to challenge it as it goes up to the Supreme Court. But with the way the Supreme Court has been deciding a lot of the cases recently, this could be life-altering for not only myself, but for the other 750,000 DACA recipients around the country," he said. "These are people who have been contributing economically for the last 10 years and more. They have families here and are Americans by any other means, except for their papers."

That's one of the reasons why he will be traveling with about 40 people from Houston to New Orleans. They plan on leaving at 2 a.m. and arriving at 8 a.m. Wednesday, shortly before the hearing begins. It's not their first time making a trek like this to demonstrate. They've traveled to Austin and Washington D.C. before too. Woori Juntos, a local Korean-led organization will be joining them this time around.

"When people think of DACA, they think of the Hispanic and Latino community. But that is not actually true. There are so many Asians who are DACA recipients too," Hyungja Norman, the executive director of Woori Juntos, said. "We struggle every day in this country to live as an immigrant. I am an immigrant also. So I cannot be silent when our community is under attack."

Espinosa said although it's highly unlikely that the judge will make a ruling on the case on Wednesday, their presence is all about putting faces to the issue.

"It's important we have visibility, so people can see that these are not just numbers, figures, and facts. But rather, these are actual people," he said. "Here in Houston, we have doctors, nurses, paramedics, and more -- who were able to achieve this through DACA. If you take that away from them, they won't be able to serve our communities in that capacity."

Even if advocates get the outcome they want, in this case, they say what they ultimately want is a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country.

"If the DACA program continues as is, somebody could challenge it on a different issue, because it's not a law that was passed by Congress. We are tired of continuously having to fight for our families. But our commitment to our community ... is we will continue fighting until we get a permanent solution for everybody," Espinosa said.

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