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Idaho DACA Recipients Wait On Supreme Court To Decide Program's Fate


The Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, in the next couple weeks and as early as this Thursday.


The Trump administration announced in 2017 that it was ending the Obama-era program, which shields immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, and allows them to work legally in the U.S. Following that announcement came a wave of legal challenges, three of which were combined into the case that's being decided by the Supreme Court this session.


There are about 700,000 enrolled DACA recipients in the U.S. and around 3,000 in Idaho.


“They’re scared and they’re nervous because their futures are completely uncertain," said Brandy Pérez, an attorney at the immigration legal serives organization Familias Unidas, based in Caldwell.


Perez has been encouraging her clients, also called "Dreamers," to renew their status in the two-year program, in hopes that if the court effectively ends DACA and Congress does not take up legislation protecting it, they could likely stay legally for the next two years.


“They own homes, they own businesses, they own vehicles, they have U.S. citizen children," Pérez said.


But, renewing costs almost $500 every two years, an expense that's been difficult for many to pay during the pandemic, Pérez said.


DACA recipients are young — from their teens into their 30s -- and contribute about $160 million to Idaho’s economy, according to the liberal Center for American Progress. That gives lawyers like Perez some hope that “the big corporations that have taken the chance and hired them will push back and say ‘Hey, no, you’re going to make us lose a big chunk of our workforce.’”


Nearly 30,000 healthcare workers nationwide are DACA recipients. Immigrant Justice Idaho, which provides immigration legal services to low income Idahoans, estimates just over half of Idaho's DACA recipients work in healthcare.


This spring, the Supreme Court accepted additional supporting documents from lawyers, explaining what the risk of deporation for those healthcare workers would mean for the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen 


Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.