Demonstrators in support of DACA hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington Nov. 12, 2019. CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

‘Dreamers’ given another legal victory

By  Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service
  • December 9, 2020

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. federal judge said the Trump administration must fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, after the program that protects qualifying young adult immigrants from deportation was suspended this summer.

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., said on Dec. 4 that the program must be re-opened for first-time applicants and the period of protection for DACA recipients — known as “Dreamers” — must be reinstated to its initial two-year extension.

In July, Chad Wolf, acting Homeland Security secretary, drew criticism from immigrant advocates and Catholic officials when he issued a memorandum rejecting first-time applications for DACA and limiting DACA renewals to one year.

The latest ruling has advocates cheering.

“Great news to end the week!” tweeted Jill Marie Bussey, director of advocacy for Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC.

The judge’s ruling follows one he gave in November which said Wolf’s suspension of DACA was invalid because he did not legally hold his position when he issued the order.

The memo was issued more than a month after the Supreme Court ruled against efforts by the Trump administration to end DACA. President-elect Joe Biden said he plans to reinstate DACA and he also is expected to use executive orders to reverse other immigration policies of President Donald Trump.

DACA, a 2012 program President Barack Obama started by executive order, has enabled about 700,000 qualifying young people to work, go to college, get health insurance and a driver’s license and not face deportation. These young adults were brought to the U.S. as children by their parents without legal documentation.

On Sept. 5, 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced DACA was “being rescinded” by the president, leaving its recipients in danger of losing work permits or deportation.

CLINIC attorneys have said about 60,000 young people now over age 15 would qualify for new DACA status.

The program still faces other challenges, including a case in federal court in Texas. The Trump administration could also appeal the Dec. 4 ruling.

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