Statement on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals Decision on DACA

Children’s HealthWatch is deeply disappointed with the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), as originally established, is unlawful. The decision returns the case to the lower courts, where the legality of the Biden Administration’s new regulation aimed to preserve and protect the program will be reviewed. While DACA remains temporarily intact for more than 600,000 participants, this ruling continues to block new applicants and contributes to ongoing uncertainty and fear of deportation among Dreamers, their families and children, and immigrant communities across the country.

Since its inception in 2012, DACA has provided more than 800,000 Dreamers with the opportunity to work and learn in the US. Today, over 1.3 million people – including 300,000 US citizen children – live with a DACA recipient. The 5th Circuit ruling and ongoing litigation against DACA threaten the health, well-being, and stability of these children. Research shows that parental separation – and even the threat of detention or deportation – can cause traumatic stress and anxiety among children. Loss of DACA status may also result in financial insecurity among mixed-status families, as Dreamers lose access to health and educational benefits that support financial mobility. Our research has shown that even brief periods of deprivation can have demonstrable negative impacts on children’s overall health and cognitive, socioemotional, and motor development, particularly in the sensitive period of early childhood.

The 5th Circuit decision underscores the urgent need for Congressional action to establish a pathway to citizenship and codify other permanent protections for immigrants and their families. Children need stability and should not have to live in fear and constant uncertainty. Children’s HealthWatch remains committed to working with Congress and the Administration to swiftly pass a pathway to citizenship and implement immigrant-inclusive policies that support all children and their families.