Despite several attempts made by Trump to abolish the Obama-era DACA immigration program, more than 170 new applicants became the first people in several years to be accepted into the initiative, according to a US government court filing.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, submitted to Brooklyn federal court, shows that 171 new DACA immigration applications were approved between November 14 and the end of 2020. However, a further 500 applications were denied or rejected, with 2,713 applications made in total.
US District Judge, Nicholas Garaufis, had recently ordered the federal government to issue a public notice stating that it would accept new DACA immigration applications under the terms that were in place prior to Trump suspending the program in 2017 on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.
Federal law violated
In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration had acted unlawfully in the way it had ended the program. However, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, said that the administration would not reinstate the program and accept new applications, but would grant renewals for one year instead of two.
The DACA US immigration program currently protects an estimated 650,000 people from deportation from the US, while making them eligible for work permits.
In November, Garaufis ruled that Chad Wolf had been appointed to his post unlawfully, which in turn made the acting Homeland Security secretary’s DACA suspension unlawful. The federal government did not contest Garaufis’ ruling that Wolf had been appointed unlawfully.
Garaufis ordered that two-year renewals should be reinstated to the DACA program and asked the DHS to submit figures on how many new DACA applicants had been rejected between June and December 4, which totalled 4,383.
New applications processed
In addition to processing new applications, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), claims that it approved 61,844 DACA renewals, denied 326 and rejected a total of 2,842 in the final weeks of 2020.
President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to fully reinstate DACA and provide a pathway to US citizenship via the program. However, offering permanent legal status and citizenship through the DACA immigration program will require congressional approval.
Toward the end of 2020, a judge in Houston, Texas heard arguments from state lawyers seeking to end DACA based on its apparent violation of the US Constitution because it bypasses congressional authority on US immigration laws.
Lawyers representing DACA recipients amid the latest challenge to end the program, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, have argued that the latest lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that Obama was within his rights to launch the program.
The judge presiding over the case has yet to rule on DACA’s fate.
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