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Judge Orders Restoration of DACA

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to begin accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and otherwise restore the program to the form it took prior to Sept. 5, 2017, the day the administration announced plans to end the program.

The Supreme Court ruled in June to vacate President Trump’s decision to end DACA, which provides protection against deportation and work authorization to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, including many current and former college students.

Rather than reinstate the program following the Supreme Court ruling, Chad Wolf, acting in his capacity as acting secretary of homeland security, issued a memo in July curbing DACA, reducing the term for renewals from two years to one and saying the administration would not accept any new applications.

But U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis ruled Nov. 14 that Wolf “was not lawfully serving as acting secretary of homeland security under the Homeland Security Act” at the time he issued the memo, rendering the memo void. Judge Garaufis noted that the Government Accountability Office reported in August to Congress that Wolf was serving as acting secretary “by reference to an invalid order of succession.”

On Friday, Judge Garaufis ordered that the administration post notice within three days of “that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA, renewal requests, and advance parole requests, based on the terms of the DACA program prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with this court’s Memorandum & Order of November 14, 2020. The notice must also make clear that deferred action and employment authorization documents (‘EADs’) granted for only one year are extended to two years, in line with the pre-Wolf Memorandum policy.”

The ruling could make it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to apply for DACA for the first time. The Migration Policy Institute, an immigration policy think tank, says that 646,000 people currently have DACA and estimates that an additional 685,000 meet the criteria to apply.

President-elect Biden has separately pledged to reinstate the DACA program.

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