BY ISN STAFF | December 10, 2020
On December 4, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reinstate the entire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by December 7, and to resume accepting first-time DACA applicants.
Earlier this year, on June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court released a long-awaited decision about the validity of the Trump administration’s 2017 termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold DACA, with Chief Justice Roberts writing the opinion, on grounds that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered no clear justifications for the termination of the program which originated as an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012. The decision protects from deportation the roughly 800,000 DACA recipients legally living, studying, and working in the United States. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security was directed to resume processing initial DACA applications and advanced parole applications, and USCIS can continue to accept and process renewal applications.
However, Chad F. Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in July issued a memorandum defying the directions of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal Court in Maryland by refusing to accept new applicants or grant advanced parole to current DACA recipients, limiting DACA renewal time periods to one year rather than two, and not implementing the required changes in an appropriate amount of time.
The December 4 decision renders the July memorandum invalid and fully reinstates the DACA program.
Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration issued the following statement:
“We welcome the full reinstatement of the DACA program and are particularly pleased that with this ruling, youth who are first-time applicants are allowed to apply for the program for the first time since 2017. The DACA program directly benefits immigrant youth, their families, and the communities we serve.
“To all Dreamers, the Catholic Church continues to stand with you and will advocate with you to ensure you reach your God-given potential here in the United States.
“While we are pleased that the DACA program will be restored, we note that only legislation that provides a path to citizenship will give Dreamers and their families true security and the ability to fully thrive. For this reason, we again urge the U.S. Congress to take up and pass legislation granting Dreamers a path to citizenship.
“We hope the reinstatement of DACA begins a new chapter of possibility on the issue of immigration, including the introduction and passage of legislative reform by Congress that addresses our broken immigration system. We will continue to advocate for reform that values family unity, honors due process and the rule of law, recognizes the contributions of workers, protects the vulnerable fleeing persecution, and addresses the root causes of migration.”
In late 2019 and 2020, the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Faces of DACA campaign highlighted the realities of the uncertainty faced by DACA recipients in the Jesuit network in the lead up to the June Supreme Court decision.
José Arnulfo Cabrera, director of education and advocacy for migration for the Ignatian Solidarity Network and a DACA recipient, said of the decision: “I’m excited and relieved by Judge Garaufis’s order to reinstate DACA to its 2012 form. But I am still worried about the upcoming DACA ruling from Judge Hanen in Taxes. While DACA is important and can not go away, we need a pathway to citizenship soon. We cannot continue to live at the mercy of the court.”