Posted on December 7, 2020

Federal Judge Restores DACA, Orders DHS to Accept First-Time Applications from Immigrants

Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, December 4, 2020

Thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children are immediately eligible to apply for an Obama-era program that grants them work permits, a federal judge in New York ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas 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.


Advocates for immigrants cheered the long-awaited ruling, though they have expected that President-elect Joe Biden will fully restore the DACA program as soon as he takes office in January, something he has pledged to do.

But the immigrants known as “dreamers” are not necessarily in the clear. Attorneys General in Texas and other states have asked a federal judge to declare DACA unlawful and to provide for an orderly wind down of it. {snip}


Approximately 640,000 immigrants are currently enrolled in the DACA program. The Center for American Progress, a think tank, estimates that at least 300,000 immigrants, including new high school graduates, have been shut out since the Trump administration stopped accepting new applications in September 2017 as part of an effort to phase out the program.