Judge Orders Restoration Of DACA, Opening Immigration Program To New Applicants For 1st Time Since 2017

Friday, December 4th 2020, 4:50 pm
By: CBS News

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore an Obama-era initiative that protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, requiring officials to open the program to new applicants for the first time since 2017.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn instructed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice by Monday that states the department will accept and adjudicate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) petitions from immigrants who qualify for the program but are not currently enrolled in it. 

Garaufis also instructed officials to grant approved applicants work permits that last for two years, instead of the one-year period proposed by the Trump administration over the summer.

An estimated one million undocumented immigrant teens and young adults who qualify for DACA on paper could apply in the wake of Friday's order, according to lawyers who sued the Trump administration. 

Garaufis' order follows another ruling he issued in November that found acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf did not have the legal authority to close DACA to new applicants or shorten the validity period of the work permits and protections from deportation that the program's beneficiaries receive. Garaufis reached this conclusion after determining that Wolf's appointment violated the Homeland Security Act of 2002. 

Other federal judges have also raised questions about the legality of Wolf's appointment — which Congress' investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, determined to be invalid in August. 

In September 2017, the Trump administration moved to end DACA, arguing that the program represented an overreach of executive authority. But the intended termination was put on hold by several federal courts, and in June, the Supreme Court ruled the administration had violated federal administrative law when attempting to end the program.

Karen Tumlin, one of the lawyers representing DACA beneficiaries and prospective applicants, applauded Friday's ruling and called on the government to halt "its attacks on immigrant youth today instead of continuing its losing courtroom battle during the last days of the administration."

"Today's ruling opens the door for more than one million immigrant youth who have been unfairly denied their chance to apply for DACA and secure their future in this country," Tumlin told CBS News. "Our brave plaintiffs have said from the beginning of this lawsuit that their home is here, and the court rightly recognized that today."

First published on December 4, 2020 / 5:17 PM