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In July, a federal judge blocked new 'Dreamer' applications. Now, program recipients fear for the future.

COURTESY PHOTO: LUIS BALDERAS VILLAGRANA - Luis Balderas Villagrana, a DACA recipient, said being a 'Dreamer' is like living on a rollercoaster. The fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is once again uncertain, thanks to a Texas judge's ruling 

On July 16, a federal judge in Texas ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to be unlawful and blocked new applications for the program. While current DACA recipients remain unaffected, many have expressed fears and disagreements with the ruling.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the Biden administration from approving new applications for the Obama-era program. Since 2012, DACA has allotted work permits and protection from deportation to more than 600,000 immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Petrona Dominguez-Francisco of Forest Grove is a DACA recipient and an Oregon resident who works with a nonprofit organization, which seeks to empower and educate Latina women and their families.

Dominguez-Francisco said she was at a loss for words to describe how it felt to hear the news about DACA, but at the same time, it's not the first time the future of DACA has been unclear.

"Here we are again," she said. "It's just one of those constant reminders that like we have to keep pushing further."

Luis Balderas Villagrana, a DACA recipient living in Eastern Oregon, agreed that it's something they've all been through before. It's like a rollercoaster, with "a constant fear of things changing all the time," he said.

But Villagrana also sees this as a big opportunity "to finally get something done."

COURTESY PHOTO: PETRONA DOMINGUEZ-FRANCISCO - Petrona Dominguez-Francisco of Forest Grove is a DACA recipient, and is frustrated with the on-again-off-again effort to establish and maintain the federal program.

Villagrana said he hopes this forces Congress to pass something that comes with a permanent solution for DACA recipients, like a path to citizenship.

"We have been through this for almost 12 years now, and I think we have proven ourselves to be qualified, to be considered American citizens," he said.

But that doesn't stop at DACA recipients; Villagrana said he hopes to see solutions for farm workers and essential workers as well.

Dominguez-Francisco also says DACA isn't enough.

"DACA is not the solution, and it's not the way to go about this. But it still gave us some sort of relief to be able to do things that we do enjoy," she said.

"But I also recognize how big of a privilege having DACA is, and it can be," Dominguez-Francisco said. "And it can really do some change in people's lives."

She described DACA as a "Band-Aid," but not the solution. She also emphasized that all DACA recipients' experiences are different, and "at the end of the day, there are people without status who are able to do amazing things and overcome even further challenges."

Dominguez-Francisco said she also hopes for an eventual path to citizenship that is inclusive and "holds the history of how we got to that point," so it never has to happen again.

"It's like we're playing chess and we're seen us just these pieces that get to be thrown around. They'll throw us in the front, they'll throw us in the back," she said. "We're basically like a piece to this larger game. And that's not who we are. We're human beings, we're people, we live here, we contribute in many forms."

"At the end of the day we're just human beings who have struggled and are only here to be better and have a better life," Villagrana said.

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