Were you or a loved one brought to the United States as a child without documentation? Undocumented immigrants, no matter their circumstances, are generally subject to deportation. For decades, however, the U.S. government has implemented some form of deferred action. In other words, agencies have prioritized removing undocumented immigrants who pose serious threats to national security, while postponing punitive action for children and members of other vulnerable communities.
To solidify this informal policy, Obama issued an executive order in 2012 that established Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA grants two years of renewable status to undocumented immigrants who were brought unlawfully to the U.S. as children. This status shields recipients from deportation, allows them to obtain work authorization and a Social Security number, and provides access to Medicare. DACA has benefited hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.
When Trump took office, however, he made an immediate attempt to rescind the program in 2017. Federal courts issued injunctions across the United States, and the Supreme Court eventually rejected Trump’s attempt to terminate DACA in June of 2020. Despite this ruling, DHS (under the direction of Acting Secretary Chad Wolf) decided to stop accepting initial requests for DACA. DHS also began to renew the status of current DACA recipients for only one year, rather than two.
Fortunately, Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York ruled that Chad Wolf was not lawfully appointed to his position. Therefore, he did not have the authority to restrict DACA. One month later, on December 4, 2020, the same judge directly ordered DHS to fully restore the program.
In compliance with the judge’s order, DHS began on Monday, December 7th to accept initial DACA requests for the first time since 2017. DHS published an update on their website explaining the changes they’ve made to their operations.
The implications of this ruling and subsequent order are tremendous. According to a report published by the Migration Policy Institute, roughly 1.3 million people have become eligible for DACA since Trump tried to end the program in 2017.
Now, undocumented immigrants and their allies are looking to the Biden administration to further solidify and expand the program. Biden has promised to establish a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and millions of other undocumented immigrants, but his ability to follow through on this promise may depend on who controls the Senate. We will know the results of the Senate in January after Georgia’s run-off elections.
Retain the Support You Need to Navigate an Uncertain Future
We hope the election of Joe Biden means we will have an administration that is kinder to immigrants. However, undoing the damage the Trump administration inflicted on the immigration system will be difficult, no matter how good Biden’s intentions may be. Whether or not the future President can fulfill the promises he’s made to immigrants and their loved ones, our team at the Hurtado Immigration Law Firm is ready to stand by your side as your work toward your goals. We can answer all your questions, explain your rights and options, and fight for a better future on your behalf.