A federal judge on Friday ordered Homeland Security to restart the full Obama-era DACA program as it existed before President Trump’s botched phase-out, including giving hundreds of thousands of Dreamers a new chance to apply.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis also ordered the department to reopen a backdoor pathway to citizenship for those in the DACA program.
“DHS is DIRECTED to post a public notice, within 3 calendar days of this order, to be displayed prominently on its website and on the websites of all other relevant agencies, that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA, renewal requests, and advance parole requests,” the judge wrote in an order.
For the last three years the program has granted renewals to those already in DACA, but has refused any new applications from people that hadn’t previously applied.
It also severely curtailed issuance of advance parole, which allowed DACA recipients to leave the country and reenter — and in doing so, get in line for a green card, if they could find a valid reason.
Friday’s ruling reversing those moves was widely hailed by immigrant-rights advocates.
“The ruling is a huge victory for people who have been waiting to apply for DACA for the first time,” said Veronica Garcia, a lawyer at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
The situation with DACA has been a legal mess for years, dating back to the Obama administration’s creation in 2012 and subsequent attempt to expand it in 2014. The 2014 expansion was rejected by the courts, and then Mr. Trump in 2017 attempted a full phaseout.
But the courts said while he has the power to do that, he cut too many corners in how his team went about it. The Supreme Court earlier this year affirmed that position.
That left the program in place, but suggested the administration could take a do-over.
This summer, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf did just that, announcing new changes to limit DACA permits to one year rather than two, and to block new applications. He also announced the restrictions on advance parole.
But Judge Garaufis ruled Mr. Wolf is not legally serving as secretary, so any moves he made were also illegal. He tossed Mr. Wolf’s changes in a ruling last month, and on Friday said he was going further and would impose his own remedy.
There are hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who were too young to apply for the program before 2017 but would qualify now, or who could have applied but didn’t. They will now have a chance.
And the restart of advance parole will give some of them the ultimate prize — citizenship.
While Obama officials had said DACA wasn’t supposed to grant citizenship, the advance parole policy allowed more than 14,000 to get on that pathway, according to data last year from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
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