When the text message popped up on his phone, Samuel Alfaro didn’t want to believe it.
It said his appointment with U.S. immigration services about his application to join the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the one he had been waiting on for months, was canceled because of a court order halting the Obama-era deportation protections for those brought to the U.S. as children.
“I thought it was a scam,” the 19-year-old from Houston said of the message he received Sunday night, hours before his appointment.
Alfaro went to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website and “kept checking it, refreshing it every few hours.” Later, he got an email, confirming it was true.
Now, he simply feels “a little sad.”
Alfaro isn’t the only one. Tens of thousands of young immigrants in the country without legal status are in the same position following a July 16 ruling from a federal judge in Texas that declared DACA illegal while leaving the program intact for existing recipients.
The ruling bars the government from approving any new applications, like that of Alfaro, whose parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 2, along with his older brother. Immigrants and advocates have said they will appeal.
In a statement, Citizenship and Immigration Services said it “will comply with the court order, continue to implement the components of DACA that remain in place.”
It’s the latest twist for the program, which has been struck down and revived in a constant stream of court challenges since then-President Barack Obama created it by executive order in 2012.
Former President Donald Trump announced early on that he was ending the program, but a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year determined that he had not done it properly, bringing it back to life and allowing for new applications like the one from Alfaro, who filed at the beginning of the year.