Workpermit.com recently reported that a US court had ordered the Trump administration to reopen the DACA program to new applicants. Following that ruling, US immigration officials have now restored the program and have now started accepting applications from first-time applicants.
Complying with the court’s order, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that it would return the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to the format in which it was launched by the Obama administration in 2012.
Approved applicants for the program will be granted US work permits and deportation deferrals valid for two years, starting Monday, December 14. DACA holders will also be given permission to travel abroad under certain circumstances.
Major victory for DACA recipients
The return of the program in its original format, following a ruling made by a federal judge in Brooklyn, is seen as a major victory for DACA recipients. There is an estimated 640,000 DACA holders in the US, while an estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrant teenagers and young adults are thought to be eligible for the program.
Meanwhile, the restoration of the DACA program is yet another blow to the Trump administration, which has sought to terminate the program. Many DACA recipients have expressed their surprise at the program being allowed to remain.
26-year-old Antonio Alarcon, a DACA recipient and plaintiff in one of the lawsuits challenging Trump’s attempts to scrap the program, said: “I was skeptical, but I knew the power of our community. We kept fighting. We took to the streets. We went to the courts.”
In 2017, former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, revealed the Trump administration’s plans to ‘wind down’ DACA, saying that the program amounted to ‘unconstitutional abuse of executive authority that encouraged unauthorized immigration.’
DACA reinstatement remarkable
However, the DACA program remains, much to many people’s surprise, including Karen Tumlin, a lawyer involved in one of the DACA court cases, who said: “I don’t think there’s any immigration attorney in the country who would tell you they thought DACA would be fully in its 2012 shape in December 2020 of the Trump administration.”
“It is absolutely remarkable, but I think it’s a testament to the ferocity of immigrant young people who have allies in the courtroom and allies across the country,” Tumlin added.
While DACA has been restored for now, doubts remain over its eventual fate. The DHS has said that it may appeal the ruling handed down by Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the US District Court in Brooklyn. Furthermore, the Republican Attorneys General is pushing for a federal judge in Texas to declare DACA illegal.
A hearing has been scheduled for December 22 by Judge Andrew Hanen, who has previously described DACA as illegal.
Complications for Biden
The hearing in Texas could complicate matters for President-elect, Joe Biden, in his efforts to protect DACA recipients from deportation, especially if Hanen terminates the program. Biden has promised to retain DACA and work with Congress to forge a pathway to US citizenship for the program’s recipients.
However, there may be problems getting it through a Republican-led Senate.
The full reinstatement of DACA was ordered by Garaufis, who ruled that acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, did not have the legal authority to shutdown the program to new applicants and limit the protections of existing recipients.
Judge Garaufis ruled that Wolf had been unlawfully appointed to his post because the DHS had ‘failed to follow legal requirements governing appointments for the department’s leadership.
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