In an attempt to revitalize Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, US President Joe Biden is shoring up its legal status, which migrant advocates claim is in no way a permanent fix to helping migrant children gain legal status, The New York Times reports.
Biden’s move at this time is especially important considering the recent Senate decision not to allow the sprawling budget bill to contain immigration provisions which Democrats had hoped would put DACA recipients on a path to citizenship.
DACA, a program initially established in June of 2012, has so far protected hundreds of thousands of undocumented young adults- who came to the United States illegally as minors- from deportation by allowing them to legally work in the US.
In order to become DACA beneficiaries, or Dreamers, individuals need to have arrived in the US before turning 16 and to have continuously lived in the US since June 15, 2007. They have to be enrolled in school or graduated, not to have any felony convictions and mustn’t pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday, the new rule would preserve and fortify the DACA by addressing some concerns over how it was implemented in 2012.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stressed that Biden Administration continues to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to the US, noting he supports the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urging Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve.
The proposed rule to be published in The Federal Register, would protect from being deported or losing their work permit some 700,000 undocumented people even if Congress does not pass comprehensive immigration reform.
It would go into effect after 60-day comment period during which the administration will consider the public input.
DACA has faced legal challenges since its inception by been canceled, reinstated and partly rolled back by court rulings and administrative actions with Dreamers facing constant uncertainty about their future.
The Supreme Court has thwarted the Trump administration attempts to terminate the program in 2017 but the policy was deemed illegal and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act this July, after which District Judge Andrew Hanen has suspended it.
Yet, the ruling has been temporarily stayed to allow for further court rulings considering the nearly 650,000 people enrolled in the program. Meanwhile, the DHS has not approved any new applications for the program though it continued to accept renewals.
DACA would only gain the much needed long-term viability if the Congress passes legislation to provide permanent protection and determine a route to citizenship.