DACA Lives!

Since 2017 the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative has been under attack by the Trump administration. The administration claimed that the program was illegal and attempted to stop it all together. Various lawsuits kept DACA renewals alive, but any new applications were rejected. Finally, in June 2020 the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision stating that the Department of Homeland Security failed to provide proper reasoning as to why it decided to end DACA. However, although many pro-immigration organizations saw this as a major victory, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to cure its defective reasoning and thus end DACA. Following in July, a memo was issued that severely limited the DACA program once again.

In the months following the Supreme Court’s decision, other lawsuits were filed and on December 4, 2020 a judge in a federal district court in New York breathed new life into DACA. Jude Nicholas Garaufis found that acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, was unlawfully appointed. Therefore, Chad Wolf lacked authority to sign and
implement the July memo limiting DACA.

Based on Judge Garaufis’ decision, starting on December 7, 2020, the DACA program was returned to its original form that began in 2012. For the first time in several years, first time applicants are able to apply. For those who are renewing their DACA status, the temporary protection as well as work authorization has been extended from one year to two years. Although this news is more than welcome, DACA still only provides temporary protection for those individuals who qualify. A more permanent solution is needed, and the Biden Administration has announced plans to address the uncertainty of the DACA program. Legislation with a path to citizenship is necessary.

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