Immigration Law Associates, PC

DACA Restored

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On December 4th, a federal judge in New York overturned the Trump administration’s latest effort to limit the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. This decision means that starting December 7, hundreds of thousands of people should be able to apply for DACA for the first time. The court order states that DHS’ July memo is void because Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf signed it without having the authority to do so. Judge Garaufis had previously ruled that Acting Secretary Wolf was improperly serving at DHS because the administration did not follow succession laws. Another federal judge and the Government Accountability Office have come to similar conclusions. Judge Garaufis’ decision requires that DACA be returned to its original 2012 form. Recently granted 1-year renewals will be automatically extended an additional year. USCIS’ website must be updated with application instructions by December 7. The next hearing in a separate lawsuit against the initiative is scheduled for December 22 in a federal court in Texas. The case, filed by 10 state attorneys general, argues that DACA is illegal, and that it burdens state healthcare and education. The Biden administration has committed to reinstating DACA in 2021 if it is still blocked, an action supported by most Americans. However, if the Texas lawsuit or another legal challenge determines the initiative to be illegal, the administration’s options will be far more limited. Even if DACA survives, it is not a permanent solution. The initiative provides temporary relief from deportation but no permanent immigration status, leaving its recipients in constant uncertainty. The program also leaves out millions of other undocumented people living in the United States. In addition to ending DACA, the Biden administration should use executive authority such as Parole in Place and Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure to prevent unnecessary deportations in the short term. However, legislation with a path to citizenship will be necessary for any long-term solutions.

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