Judge orders reinstatement of DACA, opening immigration program to new applicants for first time since 2017

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to completely restore an Obama-era initiative that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation, forcing authorities to open up the program to new applicants for the first time since 2017.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn instructed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to issue a public notice by Monday stating that the department will accept and adjudicate deferred action petitions for arrivals of children (DACA) of immigrants who qualify for the program but are not currently enrolled.

Garaufis also called on officials to grant approved applicants two-year work permits, instead of the one-year period proposed by the Trump administration over the summer.

An estimated one million adolescents and young adults are undocumented immigrants qualify for DACA on paper may soon apply for the program following Friday’s order, according to lawyers who have sued the Trump administration.

Johana Larios was about to leave home to buy diapers for her two-year-old daughter when she learned of the order on Friday. The 26-year-old Mexican immigrant and resident of Staten Island said the Trump administration suspended DACA in 2017 two days before it intended to apply.

“I was so excited. I didn’t know how to react. I’m grateful, ”Larios, a member of advocacy group Make the Road New York, told CBS News, noting that she intended to ask DACA soon. “I could go back to school, to work. And feeling like I’m not separated from my kids is the most important thing for me right now. ”

DACA Hearings at the United States Supreme Court
Protesters gather outside the United States Supreme Court, where the court hears arguments over deferred action for children’s arrivals.

Le Washington Post

Representatives from DHS and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversee DACA requests, did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, who could appeal Friday’s ruling, also did not immediately comment.

Karen Tumlin, one of the lawyers representing DACA beneficiaries and potential candidates, applauded Friday’s decision and called on the government to end “its attacks on immigrant youth today instead of continuing its battle lost in the courtroom during the last days of administration ”.

“Today’s decision opens the door for more than a million young immigrants who have been unfairly denied the opportunity to apply for DACA and secure their future in this country,” said Tumlin, director of the DACA. Justice Action Center, at CBS News. “Our courageous plaintiffs have said since the start of this trial that their house is here, and the court rightly recognized that today. ”

Garaufis’ order follows another decision he published in November that acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf did not have the legal authority to shut down DACA to new applicants or shorten the validity period of work permits and deportation protections from which the beneficiaries of the program benefit. Garaufis came to this conclusion after determining that Wolf’s appointment violated the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

Other federal judges have also raised questions about the legality of Wolf’s appointment – which the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, ruled invalid in August. The results concluded that DHS did not adequately follow the rules governing the line of succession for ministry leadership.

In September 2017, the Trump administration decided to end DACA, arguing that the program represented an overrun of executive power. But the planned termination was suspended by several federal courts, and last June the Supreme Court ruled that the administration had violated federal administrative law in trying to end the program.

In July, Wolf issued a memo outlining new guidelines for DACA as the Trump administration debated whether to try to dismantle the program again. Garaufis rescinded Wolf’s memo on Friday, which included the ban on new applicants and limits on current protections and work permits.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf speaks during a press conference on actions taken by federal agents in Portland, Ore. On July 21, 2020, in Washington.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf speaks during a press conference on actions taken by federal agents in Portland, Ore. On July 21, 2020, in Washington.

Samuel Corum / Getty Images

The Garaufis order means that DHS will be required to administer DACA in accordance with policies in place when President Barack Obama created the program in 2012. This would also allow current registrants to apply for “early parole,” which allows them to travel abroad and return to the United States. According to government data, there are currently over 640,000 DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers”.

The prerequisites for DACA eligibility include not having serious criminal convictions, arriving in the United States before the age of 16, living in the country since at least 2007, and graduating from American high school education, a GED or honorable service in the military. DACA does not allow its beneficiaries to adjust their status and obtain legal permanent residence.

President Trump has expressed sympathy for the “Dreamers” on certain occasions, but his administration has waged a years-long legal battle to end DACA and has not accepted several legislative proposals to put them on the path to death. US citizenship.

President-elect Joe Biden promised to protect DACA beneficiaries from deportation and to introduce another proposal to Congress that would allow them to gain permanent legal status if passed. Jennifer Molina, a spokeswoman for Mr. Biden’s transition, urged the Trump administration to “do the right thing” following the court order.

“On day one, President-elect Biden will ensure that Dreamers and their families have the opportunity to live their lives fearlessly and continue to contribute to our country,” Molina said in a statement to CBS News.

While Friday’s order is a significant victory for DACA recipients and potential candidates, Republican-led states are now asking U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen to declare the program illegal and to end it. Hanen, a Republican appointee, blocked the expansion of Mr. Obama’s DACA in 2014, as well as the creation of another program that would have protected the undocumented parents of U.S. green card holders and citizens of the United States. expulsion.

Hanen has scheduled a hearing on the case for December 22.

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