Judge Orders Government to Fully Reinstate DACA Program
Up to 300,000 additional undocumented immigrants could be allowed to apply for protection from deportation under a new court ruling. President Trump had sought to cancel the program.Our New York immigration lawyers who handle DACA cases, applaud this ruling and look forward to assisting dreamers in obtaining legal status.
A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to fully restore an Obama-era program designed to shield young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, dealing what could be a final blow to President Trump’s long-fought effort to end the protections. The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created by President Barack Obama in 2012. Over the years, it has protected more than 800,000 individuals, known as “dreamers,” who met a series of strict requirements for eligibility. But those protections have been under legal and political siege from Republicans for years, leaving the immigrants who were enrolled in DACA uncertain whether the threat of deportation from the United States could quickly return with a single court order or presidential memorandum. This program was designed to protect innocent children who were brought to the United States by their parent, even if they entered the United States illegally. Under DACA undocumented immigrants are eligible not only to avoid deportation, but also are eligible to receive work authorization, a social security number and even a driver's license under state law.
Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the U.S. Eastern District Court in Brooklyn directed the administration to allow newly eligible immigrants to file new applications for protection under the program, reversing a memorandum issued in the summer by Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, which restricted the program to people who were already enrolled. As many as 300,000 new applicants could now be eligible, according to the lawyers who pushed for the reinstatement. This means that beginning on December 4, 2020, the USCIS must accept first time DACA applications. This decision renewed the law as it existed in 2012, which includes two year renewals. This means USCIS must accept DACA applications from recipients whose status has expired. It is worth noting that this decision follows the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Trump Administration’s 2017 attempt to terminate DACA, finding the way it was terminated as unlawful and ordered that the decision be sent back to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The memo from the Department of Homeland Security also limited benefits under the program, including permits to work, to one year, but the judge ordered the government to restore them to a full two years. Judge Garaufis, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, also said the government must find a way to contact all immigrants who are eligible for the program to inform them of the change.
Lawyers who had challenged the Trump administration in the case celebrated the decision, saying that amid a pandemic and global economic recession, it granted some stability to a vulnerable group.
The program still faces other challenges, including a case in federal court in Texas, where Republican attorneys general have asked a judge to declare it unlawful. Immigration advocates said they hoped the administration would not continue its legal fight to end the program given the arrival of a new, Democratic administration in less than two months.
The New York trial lawyers believe that it could open the door for hundreds of thousands of immigrant youths “who have been unfairly denied their chance” under the DACA program. If you believe you are eligible for DACA, contact our New York immigration lawyers who practice DACA and represent dreamers to see if you qualify and what your options are.