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New DACA Applicants Can Apply – District Court Judge Rules

Immigration authorities must resume accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and comply with a recent Supreme Court ruling, a federal judge ordered Friday, July 14, 2020. A Supreme Court opinion last month prevented immigration authorities from moving forward with its plans to dismantle DACA, but last week’s order explicitly instructs the department to open the program to hundreds of thousands of potential new applicants.

Based on the July 14, 2020 ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm of the District of Maryland, USCIS must re-commence accepting initial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications. Since 2017, USCIS has stopped accepting initial applications (for those individuals who have never applied before) but has continued accepting renewal applications for those previously granted DACA status.

The judge said his order “restores the DACA policy to its pre-September 5, 2017 status,” a reference to the day immigration authorities were alerted the president would rescind the program.

In order to qualify under the program, which grants a temporary lawful status and a work permit, the applicant must have:

  • Entered the U.S. prior to the age of 16
  • Been under the age of 31 on 6/15/12
  • Not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, 3 or more misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to public safety
  • Continuously resided in the U.S. since 6/15/07 until the present time
  • Entered without inspection, or the applicant’s lawful immigration status must have expired as of June 15, 2012 and
  • Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces

Judge Grimm’s recent order comes nearly a month after the Supreme Court ruled that the presidential administration’s effort to end the DACA program ran afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). The Supremes pointed out that it was not ruling on whether DACA is a sound policy, only whether the government had a reasoned explanation for rescinding it.

DACA has given roughly 700,000 immigrants, unlawfully brought to this country as children, the ability to work and live in the United States without fear of deportation. It is estimated that another 130,000-175,000 applications can qualify for new initial applications under Judge Grimm’s ruling. Immigration authorities have yet to announce exactly how or when they will begin processing new cases.

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