In yet another blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict US immigration, a judge has ordered that the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program must be reopened to new applicants. The program, which protects some young immigrants in the US from deportation, was closed to new applicants in July.
The ruling by Judge Nicholas Garaufis means that the Trump administration must reopen the program to first time applicants and restore the period of protection to two years.
Back in July, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf – who was appointed unlawfully, according to a separate ruling by Garaufis – issued a memo suspending the DACA program to new applicants and reduced the validity of protection from two years to 12 months.
Suspension of DACA program invalid
Amid Chad Wolf’s supposed unlawful appointment, Garaufis said that the DHS acting secretary’s suspension of the DACA program was ‘invalid’ as he did not have the authority to suspend it.
Following his ruling, Garaufis has now ordered the federal government to post a public notice within three days that new DACA applicants are being accepted. Additionally, he has told the government that it must produce a status update on the DACA program by 4 January 2021.
The DACA program was established by Barack Obama in 2012 to allow people brought illegally to the US as children the temporary right to remain, study and work in the US instead of living in fear of being deported from the US.
The program enables people to obtain driving licenses, apply for college and get US work permits. Those protected by the DACA scheme are often referred to as ‘Dreamers’ and there are an estimated 650,000 currently in the US.
DACA targeted by Trump
The Trump administration has sought to scrap the DACA program. In the run up to his election, the now outgoing US President, threatened to ‘tear down DACA immediately’. Since becoming President, the DACA program has been the center of a number of legal battles, winding up in the Supreme Court earlier this year.
In June this year, the Supreme Court foiled Trump’s attempts to end DACA, calling the administration’s efforts “arbitrary and capricious” and adding that it violated federal law.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Trump administration continued to refuse new applications for the program.
Joe Biden promises permanent DACA legislation
President-elect, Joe Biden, has promised to implement legislation that will make the DACA program a permanent fixture of the US immigration system.
For Trump, Garaufis’ ruling is the latest blow to his efforts to tighten the US immigration system before leaving office in January 2021. A federal judge recently threw out H1B visa rules implemented by Trump, describing them as ‘unlawful’.
The Trump administration had asked the US Department of Labor to increase H1B visa salary levels in an effort to price employers out of hiring skilled foreign visa holders at the expense of American workers.
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