On December 4th, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn reversed the Trump administration's most recent attempt to place further limits on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA is an Obama-era program that was enacted to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children from deportation. Under the order, the Department of Homeland Security must begin accepting new applications for DACA starting Monday, December 7th.
Judge Garaufis’ ruling stated that the terms of the federal program must be immediately restored to what they were "before the attempted rescission of September 2017," when the Trump administration started taking several maneuvers to dismantle DACA. Judge Garaufis also said that officials must reinstate two-year permits for qualifying applicants. During the summer, the Trump administration started issuing one-year permits for qualifying applicants.
DACA protects nearly 640,000 undocumented immigrants. According to figures for July, roughly 300,000 young people living in the U.S. are eligible for the DACA program and are still waiting to submit applications. This number also accounts for 55,000 individuals who have aged into eligible status in the past three years.
Garaufis' decision is the latest court ruling in a series of embarrassing court losses for the Trump administration. Back in June, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's 2017 attempt to end DACA. According to the Supreme Court, the administration's reasoning was "arbitrary and capricious." In July, a federal court in Maryland also ordered the administration to start accepting new DACA applicants.
Although acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf issued a memorandum 11 days later to cut the number of renewal permits and block all new applications, a ruling from Judge Garaufis in November said that Wolf was not lawfully serving as acting secretary at the time he issued the changes “because the Department of Homeland Security failed to follow its order of succession, as it was lawfully designated under the Homeland Security Act." This allowed Garaufis to vacate the changes initiated by Wolf.
According to court documents, DHS must post a public notice by Monday, December 7th. The notice must be "displayed prominently on its website and the websites of all other relevant agencies.” The notice must also explain that it is “accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA."
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