Biden strengthening protections for Dreamers

“Dreamers are part of the fabric of this nation,” says Biden seeking a legal pathway to citizenship

The Biden administration has issued a new rule to preserve and fortify the Obama era DACA program that shields undocumented immigrants from deportation if they arrived as young children.

The new rule issued Wednesday is scheduled to take effect on October 31, but its fate is tied to a lawsuit by Texas and other Republican-led states.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been closed to new registrants since July 2021 while the case winds its way through the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read: Documented Dreamers share their stories amid new push for protection (May 19, 2022)

More than 600,000 immigrants, including about 5,000 South Asians were enrolled in DACA at the end of March. But a large majority, about 80% are from Mexico, according to official figures.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he would do “everything within my power” to protect DACA recipients while renewing a call for legislation to provide them a pathway to citizenship.

“Dreamers are part of the fabric of this nation,” said Biden as the young immigrants are called. “They serve on the frontlines of the pandemic response. They are students, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. Many serve bravely in our military. They’ve only ever known America as their home.”

“Ten years ago, I stood by President Obama as he announced one of our proudest accomplishments — creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA,” Biden recalled.

“The program has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Dreamers by allowing them to live here and contribute their talents to this great country without fear of removal,” he said.

Read: Ami Bera backs renewed Democratic push to protect legal Dreamers (May 19, 2022)

“Today, we are fulfilling our commitment to preserve and strengthen DACA by finalizing a rule that will reinforce protections, like work authorization, that allow Dreamers to live more freely and to invest in their communities more fully.”

“I will do everything within my power to protect Dreamers, but Congressional Republicans should stop blocking a bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers,” Biden said. “It is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do for our economy and our communities.”

The new final rule issued by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will “preserve and fortify” DACA policy deferring young immigrants’ removal and allowing them an opportunity to access a renewable, two-year work permit.

“Today, we are taking another step to do everything in our power to preserve and fortify DACA, an extraordinary program that has transformed the lives of so many Dreamers,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.

Read: Statement by President Joe Biden on Strengthening Protections for Dreamers (August 24, 2022)

“Thanks to DACA, we have been enriched by young people who contribute so much to our communities and our country.” he said. “Yet, we need Congress to pass legislation that provides an enduring solution for the young Dreamers who have known no country other than the United States as their own.”

The rule keeps eligibility criteria the same, disappointing some DACA advocates who wanted to allow more immigrants to qualify. Applicants must prove they arrived in the US by age 16 before June 2007.

In July, the New Orleans-based appeals court heard arguments that ending the Obama-era program would cruelly upend the lives of hundreds of thousands who have grown up to become tax-paying, productive drivers of the US economy. Opponents argued that DACA has cost taxpayers for health care and other services.

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