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Editor’s Note: This story, which originally published June 4, has been updated with new developments.

CNN  — 

Undocumented immigrants who arrived to the United States as children have been banking on an Obama-era program to shield them from deportation for years, living in a state of perpetual limbo and waiting for either legislation that will give them permanence or a court decision that could take away any protection they have.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was intended to provide temporary reprieve to a slice of the undocumented population in the absence of legislation. But it’s now dragged on for nearly 10 years and two generations are taking shape: the first generation, going into their early 30s, and the second generation, just graduating high school.

Both are still waiting for a permanent solution to their otherwise temporary status. On Friday, a court decision in Texas put the program at risk all over again. A federal judge ruled that DACA is illegal and blocked new applicants.

President Joe Biden pledged to preserve DACA, but after four years of the program being under threat and closed off to new applicants, immigrants applying for the program know the hope that comes with DACA is brief and their status ultimately hangs on permanent legislation.

“There’s no pathway to citizenship for me,” said Karla Daniela Salazar Chavira, 18, who applied for DACA in January. “It’s like a paid subscription. I keep subscribing to live in the United States … but I would like to be accepted to live in the United States as a citizen.”

It’s been a turbulent few years for beneficiaries of DACA, a program established in 2012 to address a portion of the undocumented population that came to the US as children following multiple failed legislative efforts. The Trump administration tried ending DACA in 2017, a move that faced immediate legal challenges and was eventually blocked by the Supreme Court last year.

Still, immigrants eligible for the program were unable to apply until a federal judge rejected a follow-up plan by the Trump administration to overhaul DACA last fall. Friday’s ruling would bar future applications but does not immediately cancel current permits for hundreds of thousands of people.

Maria, a 17-year-old based in California, was among the first group of DACA-eligible immigrants to apply for the program in December. Maria said her mom had to forgo paying rent so she could pay to submit her application. “It was nerve wracking. It was my first time applying for anything that has to do with my status in the United States,” she said. CNN agreed to refer to her only by her first name over concerns for her status.

Between mid-November and December 31, around 2,700 immigrants applied for DACA, according to USCIS data provided in court filings on a related case. There are more than 636,000 DACA recipients as of December 2020.

Shortly after taking office, Biden introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants. Congress is the only body that can provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients through legislation.

Biden reassured DACA recipients who met with him in the Oval Office in mid-May that he’s committed to passing immigration legislation and addressing the undocumented population, according to two recipients who attended the meeting.

“He made sure that we felt comfortable. We talked about many important things, like legalization, and had a friendly conversation,” said Leydy Rangel, a DACA recipient. “He did reassure us that he has our back and that this is the year to take that action. This meeting needs to be turned into action by the Senate.”

In March, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the recipients of DACA, also known as “Dreamers,” as well as for Temporary Protected Status recipients and Deferred Enforced Departure beneficiaries.

The bill passed the House in previous years but was voted on now that Democrats hold slim majorities in both the House and Senate. The bill is expected to hit a wall in the Senate, though immigrant advocates are holding out hope.

“Honestly, this is the best chance we’ve had in decades. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Immigration reform and pathways to citizenship are never easy,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, said this spring.

“We can no longer wait. The ball is in the Senate’s court,” DACA recipient Maria Praeli told CNN following the May meeting with Biden. “I know the President’s with us. He said it, this meeting reaffirmed it. … I hope that all those things signal to Congress that they need to act on it and move on it,” she added, referring to legislation.

Looming over legislative action is the court decision in Texas over the legality of DACA. The ruling by Judge Andrew Hanen, in a case brought by Texas and a coalition of states in 2018, marks the latest twist in years of legal back-and-forth over the Obama-era program.

Texas – along with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia – argued in its initial complaint that the program placed an undue burden on the states and amounted to executive overreach.

Hanen had previously indicated where he stands on the issue. In 2018, he said he believed DACA was likely illegal and ultimately would fail to survive a challenge before his court, but allowed the program to go forward.

Friday’s ruling came more than six months after Hanen had heard arguments on the legality of the program. In the interim, young immigrants – the next generation of DACA recipients – were trying to snag permits while they could and were waiting in line to obtain them.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services was digging out of backlogs that accumulated during the pandemic, which could translate to delays in biometric appointments – the first step toward obtaining DACA.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors – including an increase in applications and petitions – USCIS is experiencing delays for some applications and petitions filed, with processing times affected by several variables including demand and capacity,” said Victoria Palmer, an agency spokesperson, in a statement this spring.

Karen Tumlin, director and founder of Justice Action Center and counsel in one of the DACA cases that went to the Supreme Court, has been in touch with legal service providers nationwide who are grappling with those delays.

“Some (DACA-eligible immigrants) have been waiting for so many years to get through, which is why the delays in the biometrics piece is heartbreaking,” Tumlin said earlier this year. “If not now, when are they going to get through?”