A Federal District Court Judge in New York City ruled on Saturday, November 14th, that Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully, or better yet, incorrectly installed into the position and therefore nullified a memo written and put out by him in the end of July which summarily suspended initial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications. Therefore, only people who already were granted DACA could apply for renewals, but 1st time applicants were barred. This week’s court ruling essentially makes Mr. Wolf’s order cancelled.
Pending the government’s right to appeal the matter, DACA will be back in full force as a path for young people who may have been brought to the United States as minors (under the age of 16) but by no will of their own, to apply for temporary authorization to stay in the US, work, and essentially carry on relatively normal and safe lives without the worry of deportation. These individuals are all people without status.
Under the Trump administration, actions have been taken for more than 3 years to try and dismantle or disrupt the DACA program. As early as 2017 the US Supreme Court ruled that DHS could not abruptly end DACA for all recipients. Then after DHS tried to end renewals, the US Federal Courts ruled that the action was unconstitutional. Finally, once President Trump was able to install an Acting Secretary with beliefs much more in lined with and willing to obey, the DHS tried once more with the latest July 28th memo. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has had 5 DHS secretaries or acting secretaries. Out of which, only two, were properly confirmed by the Senate as required in the Constitution. It seems that the administration attempted to use the designation as “Acting”, to skirt the Constitutional and Legal process.
The current finding by the District Court, is welcomed by the Immigrant Community and Advocates for Immigration Policies that encourage the repair of a broken system. In the face of a Congress’ inability to pass the DREAM Act, which would have set forth a path to permanent residence and then citizenship for millions of undocumented individuals who came to the United States as children. This is turn would have eventually likely helped hundreds of thousands if not millions more through family based applications. The DREAM Act as incorporated in Comprehensive Immigration Reform has been passed by the Senate more than two times and with a President that was willing to sign it into law. However, each time it was brough forward, the measure failed in the House of Representatives. Some believe that the path to passing the DREAM Act is to push it forward as a stand alone piece of legislation, along with separate immigration bills related to employment, family, and immigration enforcement.
DACA was created as a means to assist those millions of people who have been shut out of the process and have had to continuously fear deportation, because of Congress’ failure to act. Therefore, this Court’s ruling this past week, if left un-appealed or is affirmed, DACA will continue to be a form of relief for the thousands of undocumented young people that have yet to file.
We of course hope that in 2021, that Congress and the Administration can come together and effectuate lasting and iron clad legislation so that these intending immigrants can ultimate realize their full potential and benefit fully from the American promise. For anyone that believes they may be eligible for DACA protection, please contact a knowledgeable Immigration Lawyer.