Federal Court orders USCIS to accept new DACA applications

Unclear whether Trump administration would comply with new ruling after ignoring Supreme Court orders.

A US federal court has ordered the Trump administration to begin accepting new applications from Dreamers, including some 4,500 South Asians, under an Obama era program that protects them from deportation.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been renewing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status for about 650,000 young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

But it has been rejecting new applicants even after the Supreme Court upheld DACA in a 5-4 decision last month saying the administration didn’t go about ending the program correctly..

The US District Court in Maryland ruled on Friday that the DACA policy must be restored to what it was before the Trump administration rescinded it in September 2017.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led the multistate coalition suing to restore DACA, said: “From the Supreme Court down, the courts have made it clear: DACA stands, and now its doors are open to new Dreamers to apply. That’s a fact and that’s what matters. I urge all DREAMers to enter DACA.”

READ: Five takeaways from DACA hearing in Supreme Court (November 13, 2019)

But it’s not clear whether USCIS which has ignored the Supreme Court ruling so far would act under a lower court’s order.

A notice on the agency’s website for months has said: “USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA.”

Indian American Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, and 31 other senators, wrote to the acting Homeland Security secretary Tuesday demanding immediate compliance of top court’s ruling

READ: An Indian origin DACA recipient shares her arduous journey chasing the American dream (November 14, 2019)

They demanded that DHS “immediately comply” with the court’s June 18 ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts and “fully reinstate DACA protections, as the Court’s decision unequivocally requires.”

President Donald Trump who had previously vowed to undo DACA has of late softened his stand. As recently as Tuesday promised to take care of people from DACA in a very Republican way” despite objections from some Republicans.

“We’re going to work on DACA because we want to make people happy,” said the President who had last week declared that his proposed reforms could even include  a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

An estimated 300,000 young immigrants are eligible for the program and still waiting for a chance to apply.

To be eligible, applicants had to have arrived in the US before age 16 and have lived there since June 15, 2007. They could not have been older than 30 when the DHS enacted the policy in 2012.

Recipients are required to renew their protections every two years. The program doesn’t provide permanent protection or a pathway to citizenship.


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