OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A federal judge's ruling on Tuesday reinstating DACA could have a big impact in South Mississippi.
Advocates for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program said the fight for citizenship is far from over. Protecting DACA is something many have always believed in. "DACA is not unlawful," said Jackie Castro Cooper, an advocate for Dreamers.
While most of the estimated 689,000 DACA recipients live in other parts of the country, thousands are right here in Mississippi. Many moved here with their families after Hurricane Katrina to help the Coast rebuild.
Cooper has seen them face to face. "I've seen the pain and the suffering from these young people and their families," she said.
She has been an advocate since 2014 when she taught some of them in Sunday school. She noted, "They were brought in the arms of their mother and father for safety and then they came here, and they provided an incredible economic boost to our country."
This decision has left Cooper feeling positive for the future, even in this current political climate."I'm so hopeful because the Democrats and Republicans are finally coming together on an issue that is an economic factor for this country," she said.
While advocates are happy with this decision, they say it's just a band-aid they say. Many believe the focus needs to be on the Dream Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship.
"Let's remember this program is just a protection," said Melinda Medina with the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. "It's a two-year protection that they are granted. Every two years they have to reapply for this protection, and any little thing, anything minor can cause them to lose this protective status."
The ruling mandates that new, as well as renewal DACA applications, be accepted and processed, but it comes with a condition.
It has been stayed for 90 days to allow the government to develop a more convincing case. Medina said she wants to hold elected officials accountable and push for a permanent solution.
"It's a wonderful decision, but I believe it took the pressure off Congress to have to act or do anything," she said. "But I want them to know that we are still waiting for them to act. We still need a bi-partisan agreement. We still need the Dream Act to come through."