The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, is no longer accepting new applications after a federal judge ruled the program is illegal.
DACA was created by former President Barack Obama back in 2012 and serves approximately half a million people nationwide. It defers deportation for children of undocumented immigrants if they moved to the United States before the age of 16.
Although the program does not grant legal status or a pathway to citizenship, it does allow people to apply for a driver's license, Social Security number, and a work permit
After the judge’s ruling blocking new DACA applicants, many people on the Central Coast are expressing concern for what's next.
Representatives at IMPORTA, one of the largest immigration legal services providers in Santa Barbara County, say since the ruling preventing new DACA applicants, they've been receiving many calls from those who were in the middle of the application process and now left at a standstill.
IMPORTA representative Joana Barrera has been looking for ways to help those affected by the recent DACA ruling.
"So there is a lot of fear, a lot of confusion because a lot of people and families applied for DACA and gathered the paperwork and it does take a while to gather all the documents,” Barrera said.
Barrera, along with others at IMPORTA, helps those applying for DACA. She says just recently they've sent out anywhere from 40-60 applications but it affects hundreds to even thousands of people living on the Central Coast.
Now, those applications have been halted. People received text messages informing them their appointments were canceled.
This ruling does not affect current DACA recipients, meaning those who already have DACA can renew without any issues.
"We are happy to see that this does not affect current DACA recipients. It's really a question for future childhood arrivals so I think, ultimately, it was the right decision,” said Brett Filippini, Executive Director for the Santa Barbara County Republican Party.
Republican Party representatives in Santa Barbara County say they agree with the judge that DACA was an executive overstep of the Obama administration and they agree with the position of the Trump administration.
“We think the most important thing is a DREAM Act for a pathway to citizenship for current childhood arrivals and increase border security and resources to process immigrants and migrants in the future,” Filippini said.
Not all is lost for DACA just yet. Congress still has the power to step in and save the program by passing legislation encoding it as federal law. It’s unclear whether that will happen.
"So right now, we do have a lot of hope for this program but we just right now don't know what the next step would be,” Barrera said.
Local elected officials have also expressed their concerns over the recent ruling. Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal says this impacts thousand of DREAMers living on the Central Coast.
"I am confident that this will be appealed to the appeals court and that this decision will be overturned but more importantly, this informs us why we need to move forward with immigration reform for DREAMers,” Carbajal said.
Barrera says for those who did receive a cancellation notice for their Biometric appointment, it is best not to show up because they will be turned away.
She also adds those who paid fees for the application should be contacted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to inform people about what they will do with that fee.