The Trump administration has fully reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in compliance with a federal judge’s ruling finding unlawfully appointed acting Department of Homeland Security Sec. Chad Wolf lacked legal authority to limit the program, opening the policy to brand-new applicants for the first time since 2017.
In a statement posted Monday, DHS said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would now be accepting new applications, extend shortened work permits and deportation deferrals to two years, and allow beneficiaries to once again apply for permission to travel internationally in certain cases. This is an undeniable victory for undocumented young immigrants. Truly a BFD.
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Folks, I’m just as shocked as you are right now. The program’s full reimplementation comes nearly six months after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the Trump administration unlawfully ended the policy. But the administration not only defied that ruling for months on end (as impeached president Donald Trump ran on a “law and order” campaign), but also a second ruling the next month also ordering the administration to reopen the program.
But while I’m shocked officials actually bothered to follow the law, I’m above all ecstatic for what it means for potentially hundreds of thousands of new applicants.
“Today, after waiting nearly three years, I will finally be able to apply for DACA,” Batalla Vidal v. Wolf plaintiff Ximena Zamora said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “In 2017, I was robbed of the opportunity to be able to apply because DACA was wrongly terminated and then again, in July when the Trump administration issued a memo blocking first time applicants like me.”
Under Unlawful Chad’s July memo, which was issued just weeks after the Supreme Court’s decision, protections for current and former beneficiaries were slashed from two years to just one, while new applicants were barred entirely from applying. But in a decision last month, Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that because Unlawful Chad was unlawfully appointed, his memo was also invalid, leading to the program’s full reimplementation on Monday.
It’ll make a world of difference for young immigrants like Zamora, who said she plans to apply right away. “As a recent high school graduate, I want to be able to continue my studies, work to help support my family, and live without fear of being separated from my loved ones,” she continued in the statement. “I am excited to submit my DACA application as soon as possible.”
As CBS News’ Camilo Montoya-Galvez notes in his report, the program’s survival in the face of never-ending attacks beginning with former Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ termination of the policy in September 2017 is remarkable. “But DACA outlived Sessions,” Montoya-Galvez writes.
"I don't think there's any immigration attorney in the country who would tell you they thought DACA would be fully in its 2012 shape in December 2020 of the Trump administration," Karen Tumlin, Justice Action Center founder and attorney in the litigation, told CBS News. "It is absolutely remarkable but I think it's a testament to the ferocity of immigrant young people who have allies in the courtroom and allies across the country."
But remember when I mentioned those “never-ending attacks” a minute ago? The administration may challenge the recent ruling, saying in the statement that “DHS will comply with Judge Garaufis’ order while it remains in effect, but DHS may seek relief from the order.” Additionally, DACA faces yet another court challenge at the end of the month in the courtroom of Texas Judge Andrew Hanen, as part of a years-long lawsuit launched by odious Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
What this means is that advocates are urging eligible immigrant youth to apply right away. But with applications prices at $495 per person—not to mention the cost of attorney fees if needed—many eligible teens and young people may find themselves priced out. We have worked with United We Dream in the past to help them raise these much-needed funds—and they could use our help once again. Click here to chip in.