On Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that California will be filing suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States over the latest changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
New changes reduce permit renewal length, stops all new applications
The DACA program currently allows those who were born in another country but were brought to the U.S. as children to get deferred deportations for renewable two year terms. Migrants could only apply to DACA if they completed high school, if they served in the U.S. military, or if they passed a DHS background check. Those in DACA can receive work permits but their DACA status may not be renewed if they perform a felony or serious misdemeanor.
Under the latest changes to DACA, permit renewals would have to be every year instead of every two years, with no new DACA applications being allowed. The changes came shortly after the Supreme Court overruled President Donald Trump’s decision to end the DACA program in June, with Trump administration officials opting instead for a halt of the program.
“I have concluded that the DACA policy, at a minimum, presents serious policy concerns that may warrant its full rescission. As the Department continues looking at the policy and considers future action, the fact remains that Congress should act on this matter,” said Secretary Wolf earlier this month. “There are important policy reasons that may warrant the full rescission of the DACA policy.
“Even if the DACA policy could have been justified as a temporary measure when it was created, Congress arguably has had more than sufficient time to consider affording permanent status or immigration relief to the class of aliens covered by the policy. And yet, although various proposals have been advanced to do that, Congress has so far declined to take action.”
While DACA has been cited by many as being detrimental to wages of native-born Americans and encouraging to illegal immigrants to bring children with them to be protected under the program, recent arguments against DACA have also frequently called it being a temporary law before a more permanent decision over undocumented migrants could be decided on.
AG Becerra, supporters vow to fight changes in court
However supporters have fought against these reasons in court, arguing for human rights, improved pay and home conditions for those under DACA, and that the program does not circumvent immigration law.
Attorney General Becerra, backed by a July ruling that ruled that the DACA program has to accept new applications, said that reducing and blocking DACA is illegal and that it should be restored to where it was before.
“Rather than accept the outcome of the litigation, Wolf issued a memorandum directing DHS to make immediate interim changes to DACA while he ostensibly evaluates the future of the program,” said AG Becerra on Tuesday. “We took the Trump Administration to court to defend the DACA, Dreamers, and the Rule of Law. And we won. We’re prepared to do it again.”
The new lawsuit has attracted the attention of many in and around the DACA program, with thousands of protected illegal immigrants awaiting a final ruling.
“These are people who risked everything to come here and couldn’t wait for the absurdly long time to get a green card,” said immigration lawyer Kate Quinn. “There are some in DACA who are my clients and face death if they are sent back to Guatemala or El Salvador. It’s not a stereotype. Their parents fled violence and there are criminals on the other side who don’t forget names.”
“You also have to remember that many DACA recipients are earning an honest living in jobs most Americans don’t want. They’re paying taxes, they’re attending school, and they’re generally all on the level, because those that aren’t don’t get their status removed and that means that ICE can deport them. I had a client who was involved in a hit and run, and their status was not renewed. ICE eventually got them two months after they were no longer covered under DACA.”
“But that was the compromise we had before. Contribute to society and you can stay. Commit a crime, and you are no longer welcome. What we’ve seen from Trump is a big rolling back to ‘apply through normal means’, meaning a lot of these workers, many of whom were essential during COVID or served in the military, may not be able to stay despite sacrificing so much to stay in the first place.”
“That’s why Becerra is fighting against it tooth and nail. They risked so much and gave so much.”
AG Becerra’s case is expected to be heard soon in court.