Judge orders reopening of DACA to new applicants

A federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled that DACA must reopen to new applicants under the same provisions originally set in place by President Obama in 2012:

U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn said he was fully restoring the eight-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program to the days before the Trump administration tried to end it in September 2017. He ordered the Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice by Monday to accept first-time applications and ensure that work permits are valid for two years.

Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf had issued a memo in July reducing DACA recipients’ work permits to one year, but Garaufis ruled last month that Wolf had unlawfully ascended to the agency’s top job and vacated the memo…

Karen Tumlin, a lawyer for the immigrants in the case, cheered the New York judge’s ruling Friday. But she said the immigrants need Congress to pass a law that would grant them a firm path to citizenship.

“This is a day that DACA recipients and young people have waited for for far too long,” she said. “It’s a reminder, as always, that what we really need is a permanent solution.”

This opens the doors to about a million potential applicants, but it’s not necessarily the end of the story. The law is still being challenged before a federal judge in Texas:

Attorneys general in Texas and several other states are urging a federal judge in the border city of Brownsville to declare DACA unlawful and clear the way for an “orderly wind down” during the next two years. They said the program infuses the job market with workers who compete with Americans for work and burdens states with health-care and education costs.

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, a Republican appointee who has signaled in the past that DACA is probably unlawful, has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 22.

“Whatever its policy merits, DACA is clearly unlawful, as this Court has already held,” prosecutors wrote in an October court filing. “This is a textbook example of prohibited executive lawmaking.”…

“If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so,” he wrote.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the Trump administration’s attempt to shut down DACA with Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority that the administration had not offered “a reasoned explanation for its action.” But of course the Supreme Court has changed since that decision and Roberts may not have the votes to save it if it’s appealed to the Court once again.

Ultimately, the Biden administration will have to deal with Republicans in the House (where Democrats have a narrow advantage of a few seats) and the Senate where they will likely be in the minority. Republicans, including President Trump, have expressed sympathy for the so-called “dreamers” in the past so there is some common ground, but Democrats may have to accept some things they don’t like, such as agreeing to complete the segments of the border wall already scheduled for construction. We’ll have to wait and see if Biden is able to restrain the Squad and other progressives who probably aren’t interested in a compromise.

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