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Biden Administration Attempts to Save DACA From Legal Challenges

The Biden administration is trying to shore up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program against ongoing legal challenges that threaten to revoke protections for thousands of immigrants, Vox reports. The effort is an important signal of the administration’s commitment to the program, but is far from a perfect fix. While a more than 450-page final rule, effective October 31, would formally codify DACA as a federal regulation, it will offer current “DREAMers” — unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — little immediate protection. It also doesn’t allow any new DACA applications for now, narrowing its impact to the more than 600,000 people currently enrolled.


Since former President Obama created the program in 2012 via executive action, the program has shielded more than 800,000 DREAMers from deportation and allowed them to apply for work permits. Recent legal challenges to the program have put it in danger, leading the administration to issue the new rule. Because there are still more than two months until the rule goes into effect, the immediate status quo will not change, meaning those legal challenges still loom over the program, and DREAMers have no protection from any new challenges in the intervening period. The rule replaces the policy guidance laid out in the 2012 memo that created DACA, maintaining the preexisting criteria for eligibility and the process for DACA applicants to request work permits. It also affirms that DACA is not a form of lawful status, but that DACA recipients are considered “lawfully present” for certain purposes — and that they should not be prioritized for deportation.

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