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Federal Judge Orders Trump Administration to Fully Reinstate DACA Program

December 5, 2020 by Dan McCue
Protesters rally on the steps of the Supreme Court to Defend DACA. (Photo by Dan McCue)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Trump administration must allow all eligible immigrants to file new applications for protection under the DACA program, and find a way to contact individuals who are eligible for the protection to notify them of the change, a federal judge ruled Friday evening.

The program, formally known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by President Barack Obama in 2012, to protect immigrants who were brought into the country as minors by their parents or other adults.

To date, more than 800,000 of these individuals, known as “Dreamers” have applied for protection from deportation and met the government’s strict eligibility requirements.

But President Donald Trump has targeted the program for elimination since the beginning of his administration, saying it was unconstitutional, soft on illegal immigrants and allowed various kinds of criminals into the country.

He unilaterally moved to end DACA in September 2017, but a protracted legal battle ensued.

This past June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Trump had gone too far, and had attempted to end the program without following the proper procedures.

In the wake of that ruling, Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security partially reinstated the program, refusing to allow new immigrants to apply and trimming the length of renewals to one year, instead of the two years previously allowed under the program.

Late Friday, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who was appointed to the federal court in Brooklyn by President Bill Clinton, reversed Wolf’s policy, ordering the administration to open the application process to all eligible individuals.

According to some estimates, that could include about 300,000 people.

“The DHS is directed to post a public notice, within 3 calendar days of this order, to be displayed prominently on its website and on the websites of all other relevant agencies, that is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA … based on the terms of the DACA program prior to Sept. 5, 2017,” Garaufis wrote.

The administration has been ordered to produce a status report on its efforts to the court by Jan 4, the day after the swearing in of the 117th Congress and just weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“The court believes that these additional remedies are reasonable,” Garaufis said. “Indeed, the Government has assured the court that a public notice along the lines described is forthcoming.”

Biden has vowed to restore the DACA program when he takes office next month.

After the ruling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Eight years ago, our nation took a momentous step for equality and opportunity when President Obama launched DACA, empowering young Dreamers to pursue their American Dream.”

In doing so, she said, Obama helped make “American more American.”

 “With today’s ruling, the Courts have once again upheld this bedrock initiative, which respects our American values and the will of the American people,
 Pelosi continued.

“Dreamers need and deserve real, permanent action to ensure that they can continue to contribute to our nation.  In the 117th Congress, our Democratic House Majority will once again pass bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers, which will be signed into law by the Biden-Harris Administration. 

“We call on Congressional Republicans to end their eighteen month-long obstruction of legislation to protect Dreamers, and listen to the overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans calling for its passage,” she said.

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