When Donald Trump took office as President, his administration began implementing policies driven by bigotry and a seeming desire to target all initiatives put in place by the Obama White House. That was the background of the government’s move to suspend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program put in place by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.
After the Trump administration’s attempt to completely eliminate the program was blocked by the courts this year, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf issued a memo in July that froze new DACA applications and sharply limited the ability of enrolled ‘Dreamers’ to legally work in the U.S.
A federal judge has now reversed that memo and ruled that the program be restored, reports CBS News.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn instructed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to post a public notice by Monday that states the department will accept and adjudicate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) petitions from immigrants who qualify for the program but are not currently enrolled in it.
Garaufis also instructed officials to grant approved applicants work permits that last for two years, instead of the one-year period proposed by the Trump administration over the summer.
Though the movement around immigration in America has been most visibly tied to members of the Latino and Hispanic communities, at least 575, ooo undocumented Black immigrants reside in the U.S. according to data from the Pew Research Center. Under the new ruling, nearly a million potential beneficiaries—including Black immigrants from the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America—will be able to access the protections of DACA, which allows eligible recipients to gain work permits and travel outside of America without fear of being unable to return to the country they have lived in since childhood.
To be eligible for DACA, applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, have a clean criminal record, and hold a high school diploma, GED, or have served in the military.
While the Justice Department could appeal the ruling, President-elect Joe Biden has signaled his plans to prioritize the protection of Dreamers when he takes office. DACA does not provide a path to legal permanent residency or citizenship, and Biden has also pledged to advance legislation that would help undocumented immigrants brought here as children become citizens.