On Friday, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reinstate the entire Obama-era initiative that protects illegal immigrants brought into the US as children from deportation, requiring officials to open the program to new applicants for the first time since 2017.
Judge Nicholas Garoffs of the US District Court in Brooklyn instructed the US Department of Homeland Security to publish a public notice by Monday stating that the department will accept and rule on Delayed Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) petitions from immigrants who qualify for the program but are not currently enrolled in it.
Garoffs also instructed officials to grant approved applicants work permits that last for two years, instead of the one-year period suggested by the Trump administration over the summer.
An estimated 1 million illegal immigrants could benefit from the Friday order, including nearly 300,000 teens and young adults.They could soon apply for the program, according to the attorneys who filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration.
Johanna Larios was about to leave her home to buy diapers for her 2-year-old daughter when she found out about the order on Friday. The 26-year-old Mexican immigrant based in Staten Island said that the Trump administration suspended DACA in 2017 two days before it intended to apply for it.
“I was so excited. I didn’t know how to act. I’m grateful,” Larius, a member of the Make the Road New York advocacy group, told CBS News, indicating that she intends to request DACA soon. “I can go back to school, work. To feel this feeling of not being separated from my children, that is the most important thing for me right now.”
Representatives of the US Department of Homeland Security and Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversee DACA’s requests, did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry, which may appeal Friday’s decision, did not immediately comment.
Karen Tomlin, one of the attorneys representing DACA beneficiaries and potential applicants, praised Friday’s ruling and called on the government to stop “its attacks on immigrant youth today rather than continuing its losing battle in the courtroom during the last days of the administration.”
“Today’s ruling opens the door to more than a million young immigrants who have been unfairly denied their opportunity to apply for DACA and secure their future in this country,” Tomlin, Director of the Justice Action Center, told CBS News. “The brave prosecutors have said since the beginning of this lawsuit that their home is here, and the court has rightly recognized that today.”
He follows Garoves’ orderIt was issued in November that Acting Minister of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, did not have the statutory authority to close DACA to new applicants or shorten the validity period of work permits and protection from deportation that beneficiaries of the program receive. Garoffs reached this conclusion after determining that Woolf’s appointment violated the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
Other federal judges also raised questions about the legality of Wolf’s appointment – which is the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office, Determined to be invalid in August. The results concluded that the Ministry of Homeland Security did not sufficiently follow the rules governing the line of succession to the ministry’s leadership.
In September 2017, the Trump administration moved to end DACA, arguing that the program represented an excess of executive authority. But the intended termination was suspended by several federal courts, and last June, the Supreme Court ruled that the administration had violated Federal Administrative Law when attempting to end the program.
In July, Wolf released a memo outlining new DACA guidelines as the Trump administration contemplated whether to try to dismantle the program again. On Friday, Garoffs put aside Wolf’s memorandum, which included bans on new applicants, current protection restrictions and work permits.
Garoffs’ order means that the Department of Homeland Security will be required to administer DACA under the policies in place when President Barack Obama created the program in 2012. This would also allow current registrants to request “prior parole,” allowing them to travel abroad and return to the United States according to government data , There are currently more than 640,000 DACA recipients, who are known colloquially as “Dreamers”.
The prerequisites for DACA eligibility include no serious criminal convictions, arriving in the United States before age 16, living in the country since at least 2007 and having an American high school diploma, a GED or serving with honor in the military. DACA does not allow its beneficiaries to amend their status and obtain legal permanent residency.
President Trump has expressed sympathy for the “Dreamers” on certain occasions, but his administration has fought a years-long court battle to end DACA and has not accepted many legislative proposals to put them on the path to US citizenship.
President-elect Joe Biden pledged to protect DACA beneficiaries from deportation and to submit another motion in Congress that would allow them to obtain permanent legal status if enacted. Jennifer Molina, Biden’s transition spokeswoman, urged the Trump administration to “do the right thing” following the court order.
“On the first day, President-elect Biden will ensure that Dreamers and their families have the opportunity to live their lives free from fear and continue to contribute to our country,” Molina said in a statement to CBS News.
While Friday’s order is a major victory for DACA recipients and potential petitioners, the Republican-led states are currently asking U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanin to declare the program illegal and terminate it. Hanin, the Republican designated member, prevented Mr. Obama’s 2014 expansion of DACA, as well as the creation of another program that would have protected unregistered parents of US green card holders and citizens from deportation.
Hanin scheduled a hearing in this case for December 22.