Immigration On the Hill

Biden Administration Proposes New Rule to Protect DACA

The Biden administration published a rule Tuesday that could help to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the administration’s latest attempt to protect the program from legal challenges.

The rule would cement DACA, protecting hundreds of thousands of people without documentation who were brought to this country as children from losing their ability to work in the U.S. and from being deported.

The Biden administration’s rule is particularly necessary given the recent legal attacks on DACA and continued hurdles to implementing a pathway to citizenship through Congress. In July, Judge Andrew Hanen, a federal judge in Texas, ruled that DACA was illegal and blocked new applicants to the program, leaving hundreds of thousands of people’s immigration status in limbo. Judge Hanen insisted that the program, implemented in 2012 by President Obama, was an overreach of federal power and could only be maintained through legislation.

Democrats in Congress had initially hoped to include a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients in the $3.5 trillion budget bill currently in the works, but the Senate parliamentarian recently voted to exclude this immigration measure from the bill.

DACA currently protects 700,000 undocumented people from deportation. It also allows undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children to work in this country. DACA recipients must have entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and must have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, among other requirements.

Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell Law School, told the New York Times that the Biden administration’s rule protecting DACA is “basically an effort to bulletproof the DACA program from litigation challenges,” calling the rule “a temporary safety net for Dreamers if legislation fails.”

The rule outlines the important economic contributions of DACA recipients as well, demonstrating on official record how the Department of Homeland Security values Dreamers.

“The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal. However,” he added, “only Congress can provide permanent protection. I support the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urge Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve.”

Biden’s rule comes as the Department of Homeland Security has deported nearly 4,000 Haitian migrants trying to enter the U.S. from Del Rio Texas on the southern border.

Sources: The Hill 9/28/21; The Federal Register 9/28/21; New York Times 9/27/21; CNN 9/27/21

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