Federal Judge Nicolas G. Garaufis of the US District Court in Brooklyn ordered the Trump Administration to reinstate immediately the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program created by President Obama in 2012. The program shielded some 800,000 individuals called “dreamers” who met a strict series of requirements for eligibility from deportation due to their undocumented status.
President Trump effectively ended the program’s acceptance of new applicants in 2017 and made other modifications to the program. This ruling would make approximately 300,000 new dreamers eligible to apply for the program and restores the full benefits of the original program, including two-year work permits, which the Trump Administration had limited to one year. Judge Garaufis also ruled that the government must find a way to contact all immigrants who are eligible for the program and inform them of the change, and must post changes to the program on its website by 12/7/20.
As we noted in our previous blog post, the decision to phase out DACA had left both students and scholarship providers in uncertain positions. The Trump Administration tasked Congress to step in and protect the dreamers with a permanent solution; however, the Dream Act failed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate in 2017 and has yet to be reintroduced, leaving dreamers fates “to the shifting political winds in Washington” according to the New York Times. Comprehensive legislation would no doubt be preferable to provide stability to the dreamers, but may continue to prove elusive if Republicans retain control the Senate after the two runoff elections in Georgia in early January. Thus, the DACA program will likely to continue to provide the only legal protection for the dreamers.
President-Elect Biden has vowed to restore the DACA program when he takes office in January, so many immigrants’ rights activists hope that the Trump Administration, with only six weeks left, will make the decision to let go of its legal fight to end the program.