[12/7/20] – Fed. Judge Orders DACA Reinstated

Another chapter in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation sage was written this last week when federal district court judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must again start accepting and processing DACA applications. There are nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who work, go to school, and have aspirations that are in-line with the most meritocratic vision of success and this adjudication reinforces their protective legal shield against deportation and arrest. Beginning in 2012, DACA has been challenged repeatedly and will likely continue to be challenged moving forward. Living in legal limbo has profoundly negative effects on one’s mental, physical, and mental well-being. In this, the final Lecture Spark of 2020, we examine what is means to be an American today through the eyes of those struggling to obtain citizenship. Specifically, we examine the case of DACA through the lens of social construction of illegality in the United States and social justice movements.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Fed. Judge Orders DACA Reinstated

Learning Objectives

LO1: Assess pros and cons for creating a pathway to citizenship for the 700,000 DACA recipients in the United States.

LO2: Discuss the mental, economical, physical, and emotional consequences of living as an undocumented citizen in the United States.

LO3: Understand how social institutions create a narrative about undocumented immigrants that is reinforced by a variety of agents during the process of socialization.


What ‘Dreamers’ Gained From DACA, and Stand to Lose

As President Trump moves to end the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, listen to a few of the 800,000 affected by the program.

DACA, explained

Protection from deportation and the chance to work have been life-changing for DACA recipients. Will Trump get rid of it?

Federal judge orders restoration of DACA program

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore an Obama-era initiative that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, requiring officials to open the program to new applicants for the first time since 2017.

Discussion Questions

How do you define the term “illegal immigrant” in your own words? Where does this definition originate from? What sources of information do you depend on to inform your awareness of immigration prevalence and trajectory in the United States? Why do you trust these sources over other available authorities on the topic? What counternarratives are you aware of that challenge your position? Where do they originate from? How do you reconcile the two perspectives?

How does the stigma of DACA prevent recipients from sharing their immigration status? How might the stigma cause harmful mental, economical, emotional, and physical effects? How can the ongoing legal battles create confusion and fear in the DACA and undocumented community? Who benefits the most from the continued stigmatization of DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants? What social institutions work to perpetuate the social construction of illegality in a way that continues to limit the prospect for full assimilation into American culture?

How has the social movement of support for DACA and creating a pathway to citizenship been sustained? What needs to happen in order to maintain this momentum for them? What counterattacks should advocates expect in the coming weeks and months?

How does the high cost and inconvenience of obtaining and/or renewing DACA prevent some undocumented immigrants who qualify from applying? How might the cost and inconvenience also create opportunities for undocumented immigrants to be exploited by agents of the legal system including police, lawyers, and judges? How can the expensive and challenging nature of DACA create instability in the social hierarchy of the immigrant community?

What are the pros and cons of creating a pathway to citizenship for the 700,000 DACA recipients? What social benefits and consequences might arise if DACA recipients are offered a pathway to citizenship? Why might capitalist entities like our government, for-profit prisons and surveillance technology outfits be opposed to creating this pathway? What aspects of American culture need to change the most to accommodate a state of full tolerance and acceptance for all immigrant populations? Which agents of socialization need to be operationalized, and why?

How would you address the issue of immigration policy in the United States? What criteria would you establish for citizenship consideration? Why is it necessary for people to measure up to these standards? How would you address the narrative about DACA recipients in American culture? What parts would you emphasize? What parts would you omit? Why?


The degrading label placed upon undocumented immigrants as being illegal and undeserving of citizenship is what sociologists call a(n) _______.
a. Elegy
b. Stigma
c. Outcast
d. Deplorable

Stress associated with living largely in secret as an undocumented immigrant in the United States as the legal battle over your citizenship is waged in courtrooms across the nation is responsible for a great deal of _______ illnesses among the undocumented immigrant community including:
a. Mental
b. Physical
c. Emotional
d. All of the above

A _______ theorist would be interested in investigating how social institutions work together and depend on the existence of increasingly restrictive immigration policies for their stability.
a. Conflict
b. Rational Choice
c. Functionalist
d. Symbolic-Interactionist

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/vichinterlang

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