US judge slams Trump administration for denying Dreamers work permits

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf (above) issued a memo in July that effectively declined to restore the original 2012 DACA program. “You are not entitled to manufacture your own law,” a federal judge told the government on November 18, 2020.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf (above) issued a memo in July that effectively declined to restore the original 2012 DACA program. “You are not entitled to manufacture your own law,” a federal judge told the government on November 18, 2020.

Accuses Trump administration of “running out the clock” to avoid implementing DACA.

A federal judge has accused the Trump administration of “running out the clock” on president Donald Trump’s four-year term to avoid granting work permits to about 650,000 Dreamers including about 5,000 South Asians, according to a media report.

The Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protects Dreamers or undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

The government should have resumed accepting new applications for DACA when the US Supreme Court blocked the administration from terminating the program in June, US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, said at a hearing Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

Instead, he said, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf issued a memo in July that restricted access to the program, a move Garaufis called “sad” and an “inappropriate use of alleged executive authority.”

“You are not entitled to manufacture your own law,” Garaufis was quoted as saying. “I’m deeply disappointed that that appears to be the situation.”

READ: US judge strikes down limitations to DACA program (November 17, 2020)

Garaufis had ruled on Saturday that the Trump administration illegally appointed Wolf to the top DHS post last year, engineering a new order of succession and leapfrogging other officials who traditionally should have been in line for the job.

The judge ruled that Wolf’s subsequent memo effectively declining to restore the original 2012 DACA program – such as taking new applications for the first time in three years – was invalid.

Wednesday’s hearing was supposed to allow the court to consider next steps in the case, but Garaufis signaled that time was running out, the Post said.

The incoming Biden administration already has pledged to fully restore the DACA program, which grants work permits to eligible undocumented immigrants who entered the US as children.

READ: Trump administration to reject new DACA applications (July 29, 2020)

According to advocates for immigrants cited by the Post, Wolf’s memo affected as many as 1.1 million people, including more than 640,000 immigrants currently enrolled in the program and who are allowed to renew their work permits. Wolf’s memo reduced the permits’ validity from two years to one.

The Post cited DHS officials as saying that attempts to declare Wolf’s appointment unlawful are “baseless,” and they criticized Garaufis, who was appointed during President Bill Clinton’s administration, as an “activist judge” after last week’s ruling.

Garaufis said the Trump administration has repeatedly violated the order of succession requirements laid out in the Homeland Security Act.

READ: Federal Court orders USCIS to accept new DACA applications (July 18, 2020)

DHS was cited as saying it maintains that Wolf was lawfully appointed and “the department continues to evaluate its legal options in these cases and is working to ensure the administration’s challenged policies and regulations remain in effect.”

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