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Trump Administration Ordered To Accept New DACA Applications And Fully Restore The Program
Immigration rights activists take part in a rally in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on November 12, 2019.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

In Brooklyn, New York, a federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, opening the door for potentially hundreds of thousands of unlawfully present immigrants to apply for the protection.

President Barack Obama used his executive powers to introduce DACA in 2012 to shield some individuals who entered the United States illegally as children from deportation if they met certain conditions. The Trump administration moved to end the program in 2017 and stopped accepting applications. Friday’s directive restores the enrollment process and returns DACA back to its original form.

However, the Trump administration can appeal the decision. The program also faces a legal challenge in a Texas federal court.

According to The New York Times, DACA has protected more than 800,000 people known as “dreamers” since its inception.

“Living from court to court ruling, on the whims of politicians or which way the wind is blowing, is cruel and dehumanizing,” said Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, a DACA recipient and policy manager for an immigrant youth-led network called United We Dream. “The incoming Biden-Harris administration must use every tool at their disposal to move on permanent solutions for immigrant youth and over 11 million undocumented people living in this country. We won’t wait.”

As The New York Times reports:

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn directed the administration on Friday 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.

 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.

The judge said the government must announce the changes to the program on its website by Monday.

Joe Biden promised to restore DACA on the campaign trail. Still, as the Times notes, “Mr. Biden is certain to face intense pressure from immigrant groups to fight for a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws that would take care of the dreamers and millions of other undocumented immigrants.”

President Donald Trump has maintained that DACA is unconstitutional. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to block his administration’s efforts to dismantle the program, ruling that it had not adequately explained its decision to do so.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the opinion. “The wisdom of those decisions is none of our concern. Here we address only whether the Administration complied with the procedural requirements in the law that insist on ‘a reasoned explanation for its action.’”

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