DHS Issues New DACA Rule to Strengthen Program for ‘Dreamers’

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday finalized a rule codifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program amid the continued threat of legal challenges against it.

After going through a public comment period, the final regulation will formally replace the memo on Oct. 31.

It’s the latest effort of the Biden administration to replace and fortify the Obama program aimed to preserve protections for hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers,” eligible noncitizens who arrived in the United States as children, and who were allowed to live and work in the US under the 2012 memo issued by the Obama administration.

However, the news rule kept the cutoff dates from the original memo, which means that only Dreamers who arrived in the US by 2007 are eligible to apply.

Calling DACA an extraordinary program that has transformed the lives of many Dreamers, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stressed the need for Congress to pass legislation that provides an enduring solution for the young Dreamers, emphasizing that they’ve known no country other than the US as their own.

The policy has been subject to extensive litigation in its decadelong history, largely based on the fact that it was created by a memo, rather than a formal rule. It was that fact that US District Court Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas used to rule in July 2021 that DACA was illegal.

Although that ruling did not strip over 600,000 DACA recipients of their benefits, it did prevent the Biden administration from signing on new applicants.

Under the current cutoff dates, only about a quarter of the 100,000 Dreamers graduating US high schools this year are eligible for DACA, according to a new report by the tech industry-linked immigration advocacy group FWD.us.

The Biden administration will be able to accept new applicants once the new DACA rule is in place.

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