After unsettling times, the Deferred Action for Children program (DACA), is about to be fully reinstated by virtue of district court orders, which were effective as of December 7, 2020. Both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office and the Department of Homeland Security made it clear on their websites that compliance with the order would go into effect starting on this date.
The order said that DHS and USCIS should post notices that the executive order of 2017 ending DACA was over and that new applicants would be welcome as well as renewal requests. In addition, the order said that parole requests should be advanced. Specifically, the offices were instructed to make clear that these would begin anew within three days as of December 4, 2020. The order also said that one-year action grants and EADs should be extended to two years.
DACA was in peril after a September 5, 2017, statement by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced that it would be repealed. Sessions said at the time that DACA recipients were lawbreakers and that allowing them to remain and work in the U.S. adversely affected American citizens born in the United States. He also said that DACA was responsible for an uptick in the number of young people coming into the United States from Central America.
President Trump said that DACA was unconstitutional and insisted that all legal experts believed this to be true. The statements by both men were widely disputed.
Reaction to Recission Order
Reactions to the rescission order mostly varied along party lines in the United States. Former President Obama said that rescission was cruel. He said that the young people at the heart of this argument were never a part of another country except for the United States and that many of them were unaware they were undocumented until they applied for a driver’s license or a job. He said he was appalled that the new order would fundamentally threaten their future.
The rescission order was challenged in district court by 15 states and the District of Columbia in N.Y. v Trump in September 2017. A separate lawsuit was filed by the attorney general of California, a claim that was joined by three other states. The University of California in San Francisco also filed a lawsuit against DHS. The then-president of the University of California called the repeal cruel and unconstitutional, saying that 800,000 Dreamers would be uprooted by this order.
Blocking the Repeal of DACA
In January 2018, the District Court for the Northern District of California effectively blocked the repeal of DACA temporarily. On January 13, 2018, the U.S. government said it would once again begin approving DACA applications. In February, a district court judge for the Eastern District of New York ordered that the program be fully reinstated. Multiple lawsuits followed until a Supreme Court decision led to a ruling by another district court judge in July of 2020 that said that DACA must be restored to the status it had prior to September 2017. This order mandated that the DHS start accepting new applicants. This had not been done since the original repeal of DACA.