As a part of the Equal Justice Center's mission of empowering working families to obtain fair treatment in the workplace and in our shared society, the EJC provides legal assistance to undocumented students and graduates applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is the Obama Administration's executive action program that allows undocumented young students and graduates who have grown up in U.S. to obtain temporary, renewable employment authorization and protection from deportation. Since DACA was first established in 2012, the EJC has helped thousands of individuals across Texas obtain work permits and immigration relief through DACA, enabling these promising young people to secure better jobs and earnings and a better future for themselves and their families and their communities.
The EJC provides individualized legal assistance to Central Texas residents who are seeking legal assistance applying for DACA. We also work with local community groups to organize and support free DACA clinics and forums throughout Texas, which help large numbers of eligible students and graduates get expert help preparing their own successful DACA applications. We also conduct community education and information sessions that help community organizations, families, and individuals learn about DACA and DAPA and how they might benefit.
Individuals and groups interested in obtaining our services, planning a clinic in their community, or receiving general information regarding DACA or immigrant rights, can call our toll-free hotline at 888.670.6854.
DAPA is an executive action program that was announced in November 2014 by the Obama Administration - but was blocked in the courts and thus never went into effect. DAPA would have allowed roughly 3 million undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain temporary, renewable employment authorization and protection from deportation. The Obama Administration also announced an expansion of the DACA program along with the DAPA program.
The DAPA and expanded-DACA programs were enjoined from taking effect as a result of a lawsuit by the State of Texas and 25 other Republican-led states whose leaders opposed the DAPA and expanded-DACA programs. The program was first blocked by a nation-wide injunction issued on the eve of its scheduled implementation by U.S. District Judge Hanen in Brownsville, Texas. That injunction was then twice upheld by three judge panels in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals - both times on a 2-1 split decision. In June 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court failed to reach a decision on the DAPA program due to a 4-4 tie vote (almost certainly with the four Democratic appointees favoring the DAPA program and the four Republican appointees opposing it - though under Court procedures the individualized votes were not subject to announcement). That tie-vote non-decision in the Supreme Court had the effect of leaving in place the original injunction that had been issued by the court in Brownsville and upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In all, thirteen federal judges reviewed the legality of the DAPA and expanded-DACA programs. Six of those judges (all Democratic appointees) voted to uphold the legality of the DAPA and expanded-DACA programs; seven of those judges (all Republican appointees) voted to block the DAPA and expanded-DACA programs).
The impending Trump Administration has suggested it intends to rescind the executive action authorizing the DAPA and expanded-DACA programs upon taking office. Though less clear, there are also indications the Trump Administration intends to rescind some or all of the executive original-DACA program as well.
Throughout the pendency of the DAPA and expanded-DACA programs the Equal Justice Center has provided immigrant individuals, families, and communities across Texas (a) with expert information to help them understand how the DAPA and expanded-DACA programs might apply to them; (b) with legal counsel about what to do and not do while waiting to see if the programs went into effect; and (c) with accurate updates about the ongoing court developments.
Even while the DAPA and expanded-DAPA programs have been on hold, the original-DACA program has remained in effect and the EJC has continued full speed to help undocumented students and graduates qualify, where possible, for the original DACA program. Since the November 2016 election, the EJC has adjusted its DACA legal assistance, clinics, and recommendations to take into account the strong likelihood that the incoming Trump Administration may rescind some or all of the original-DACA program.
Individuals and groups interested in obtaining our services, planning a clinic in their community, or receiving general information regarding DACA or DAPA, can call our toll-free hotline at 888.670.6854.
EJC's Principal DACA & Immigrant Rights Service Areas