With the fate of immigrant “Dreamers” hanging in legal limbo, Mayor Eric Adams' administration is calling on Congress to grant a path to citizenship to the migrants before Republicans take control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year.

"It's likely that DACA will disappear, so this year is quite critical," said Manuel Castro, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, during a Wednesday panel hosted by the nationwide coalition Cities for Action. “As long as Congress doesn’t act to provide relief for 'Dreamers,' we’re stuck.”

DACA recipients – known as “Dreamers” – are allowed to work and study in the U.S. without risk of deportation. The relief applies to qualified immigrants who were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, came to the U.S. before turning 16 and have continuously lived in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present.

It's likely that DACA will disappear, so this year is quite critical.
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro

As of June 30, there were nearly 600,000 active DACA recipients in the U.S., with 25,000 residing in New York state. For many program recipients, the U.S. is the only country they have ever known.

Immigrant advocates say the next weeks are critical to the program’s future.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that DACA was illegal; it ordered a lower court to review the program – effectively buying more time for Congress to act. House Republicans, who are set to take control of the chamber in January, have opposed DACA fixes. The program was created by executive order under President Barack Obama in 2012.

In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security has stopped processing new DACA requests, though existing recipients can still renew their DACA status.

Adams has joined over 70 other city and county leaders across the country in a letter urging congressional leaders to pass permanent federal protections for DACA recipients “without further delay.”

“Ensuring 'Dreamers' have a path to citizenship is a priority for us,” Adams said in a statement. He added: "The time is now.”