Originally published December 9, 2020.
Since the start of Donald Trump’s Presidential term in 2017, he and his administration have been working to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects undocumented children who came to the U.S. when they were younger than 16 years old. Ever since the Trump administration has continually made statements against DACA and the continuation of the program, the recipients of this program, called DREAMer’s have been left in limbo, wondering what the future may hold.
The recipients of this program must have been living in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. Additionally, they must have a clean criminal record, be at least 15 years old when applying, and either be in school, working, or in the military.
The DACA Program is designed to give young immigrants the opportunity to obtain a work permit, potential health insurance from employers that provide it, and it shields them from deportation. Additionally, they are able to go to college and get driver’s licenses. Thousands of these DREAMers have been working tirelessly on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic in America, holding jobs in both healthcare, education, and so many other fields. Every two years, DREAMers can reapply but it requires paying a $500 fee.
Back in June, the Supreme Court blocked the President’s most recent attempt to terminate the program, with Chief Justice John Roberts delivering the opinion that doing so would be unlawful according to a 5-4 vote. The court determined that the methods by which President Trump had attempted to dismantle this program were unlawful. However, they did determine that it is within Trump’s power to revoke the program if he goes through the right processes.
Since its establishment in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, the DACA program has protected over 800,000 young immigrants.
However, back in July, U.S. Secretary of Security, Chad Wolf, stated that no new applications would be accepted and any renewals would be limited to 1 year, instead of the normal 2. But that statement was deemed invalid in Nov. of 2020 when federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of NY decreed that Wolf had been unlawfully serving as the Secretary of Security when he issued the cancellation.
During this time, Wolf has been nominated to hold the position of acting director of the Department of Homeland Security by President Trump but had not been confirmed by the Senate, invalidating his authority to make such rulings against the program.
On Dec. 4, 2020, Judge Garaufis decided it was time to reopen the applications up to young immigrants, declaring that newly eligible immigrants will now be allowed to submit their applications for the program. Judge Garaufis also declared that eligible applicants must be notified by the government that they will now be able to apply for the program and protection from deportation.
While this a major moment for the program, there is still time for President Trump to appeal against Garaufis’s position and once again, attempt to dismantle the program. However, President-elect, Joe Biden vows that when he is instated into office, he will ensure the continuation of the program.
While DACA currently does not provide these young people with a path to citizenship or a permanent solution, but there is hope that in the future they will adapt the policy to help provide these DREAMers with documentation.