A federal judge invalidated Trump administration rules narrowing the program that protects immigrants living in the U.S. since childhood without legal permission. The ruling Saturday restores the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to near-full operation, after attempts by the Trump administration to end or curtail it. For the first time since September 2017, new applicants who weren’t previously eligible, typically because they were too young, may now apply, reports the Wall Street Journal. DACA was created by the Obama administration in 2012 to protect the young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who have been living in the U.S. without legal permission since childhood, and has been the subject of legal battles for three years.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration’s first attempt to end the program didn’t follow the proper procedure. Then acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf narrowed the program to existing applicants, who would be offered renewals of only one year, rather than two, and closing the program to new candidates. Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled it was improperly issued because Wolf hadn’t been properly appointed to his acting position. The new ruling doesn’t remove Wolf from his role but adds to a growing set of rulings that have found that, as a result of his improper appointment, he didn’t have the authority to issue numerous immigration and other policies. The department hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed secretary since Kirstjen Nielsen departed in April 2019. The ruling accomplishes what President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to do his first day in office: restore DACA to full operation as the Obama administration designed it. The program offers work permits and protection against deportation for certain immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 and satisfied other conditions.