President Biden directed the Department of Homeland Security to take all actions “appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
DACA was created by President Obama in 2012, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for the program — which grants legal status to some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children — that year. President Trump declared in 2017 that he would end DACA, sparking fears among about 700,000 DACA beneficiaries that they would be deported. The phase-out was tied up in court due to multiple legal challenges.
After a Dec. 7 court order, DHS announced that USCIS had resumed accepting both initial and renewal DACA requests for deferred action under DACA, and that the program would be “operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.”
In an executive order signed Wednesday hours after his inauguration, Biden said that DACA “reflects a judgment that these immigrants should not be a priority for removal based on humanitarian concerns and other considerations, and that work authorization will enable them to support themselves and their families, and to contribute to our economy, while they remain.”
In June, the Supreme Court — with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor in the majority — found that DHS in the Trump administration did not go about rescinding DACA the right way. “The dispute before the Court is not whether DHS may rescind DACA. All parties agree that it may. The dispute is instead primarily about the procedure the agency followed in doing so,” Roberts wrote for the majority.
In response, then-Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said the department would reject all new DACA requests and limit the length of renewals while the department undertakes “thorough consideration of how to address DACA in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.”