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Suspension of DACA program invalid, court rules

Although a U.S. Supreme Court ruling reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in July 2020, the current administration has continued to chip away at the application process and effectively halted the program, pending Department of Homeland Security (DHS) review. According to a recent news article, however, a federal judge in New York has just ruled that suspension of the program is not valid.

According to U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, the acting secretary of DHS illegally assumed his position and therefore his actions carry no legal authority. The judge ruled that the acting secretary position did not follow a legal order of succession when the former DHS Secretary resigned in April 2019.

A bipartisan congressional agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), made a statement in August that both the acting secretary and his acting deputy had no legal authority to serve in those capacities under the Vacancies Reform Act. The current acting secretary is the fifth to serve in this position in four years, and was only named after the White House Personnel Director rejected two other candidates.

The DACA Program

The DACA program has been in place since 2012, when the DHS under the previous administration began to allow undocumented youth to remain in the United States under a “deferred action” initiative. This status has prevented the deportation of thousands of immigrant youth while they continue their education and are granted work authorization in America.

Linked to this program is a category of illegal immigrants called the Dreamers. Dreamers entered the United States as children, and either never applied for DACA or could not apply when the program stopped accepting applicants. Children must have arrived five years before the program began to qualify, making a majority of Dreamers ineligible.

While DACA recipients come from all over the world, most of them were born in Mexico. There are currently 643,560 recipients, and up to 3.6 million Dreamers, who live and work in America. To be eligible, DACA candidates must have been under the age of 16 when they arrived in the United States.

DACA in Illinois

Illinois is one of three states with the largest populations of DACA recipients, and most beneficiaries of the program live in concentrated areas like Chicago. There are currently 79,415 DACA recipients in Illinois, and of those a little under 50% have been approved.

If you are currently seeking an appeal, having permanent residence or removal and deportation issues, or wish to proceed with an application, it is helpful to find experienced counsel that will inform you of current and rapidly changing laws.

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