One Wednesday of last week The Biden administration published a new final rule designed to “preserve and fortify” the DACA program!
The rule replaces the original policy guidance that was established by President Obama in 2012, clarifying the age cutoff for DACA applicants, when they must have entered the United States, and eligibility criteria for work permits.
But does this new policy go far enough to protect Dreamers? And will it help the millions of young people who were brought into the country as children but aren’t yet protected by the program?
Keep watching because we’re going to answer these questions right now.
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So what exactly does the new DACA rule say, and how does it help Dreamers? What’s in the new DACA rule?
The primary goal of the rule is to improve its legal standing as it comes under attack by federal courts.
The Biden administration replaced the original memo from 2012 with a registered federal regulation, which will put it “on even stronger footing” according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
On the day it was posted, USCIS announced that this final rule is in response to more than 16,000 comments received during the public comment period, and will:
This means the rule largely remains the same as it was before, with a few minor differences, such as:
The clarification that “expunged convictions, juvenile delinquency adjudications, and immigration-related offenses characterized as felonies or misdemeanors under state laws” will not automatically make someone ineligible for DACA.
And the clarification that a Dreamer’s work authorization doesn’t end if removal proceedings are started against them.
So what are some of the criticisms that the Biden Administration is receiving for this new rule?
Many immigration advocates are pointing out that this was a failed opportunity to expand the DACA eligibility criteria and cover younger immigrants who arrived over the past 15 years.
Under the current criteria, applicants must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and continuously resided in the country since at least June 15, 2007.
By keeping the same requirements as the original program, we will soon reach a date where no new applicants will qualify for DACA protection.
According to a report published in May, that means most of the 100,000 undocumented high school students who graduate this year will not be eligible for the program.
When pressed about this, the Biden Administration said that changing the eligibility could incentivize additional migrants to come to the United States, effectively capitulating to Republican talking points.
So with the new rule failing to expand eligibility and the program coming under attack by the courts, what does the future hold for DACA?
The existence of the program is currently being decided in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is widely considered to be the most conservative appeals court in the country.
Oral arguments were heard in July and the court is expected to issue a decision at any time.
If it rules against Dreamers, then the case will likely end up in the Supreme Court, where DACA’s fate will ultimately be decided.
Congress could prevent the courts from determining DACAs future if it voted on the DREAM Act and created legislation to protect Dreamers, but has repeatedly failed to do so every time it has been proposed.
Democrats had tried to pass immigration reform without Republican support last year through the budget reconciliation process, but the Senate parliamentarian ultimately ruled that this violated reconciliation rules.
There is still a possibility that Congress could act, but it will likely require Democrats to agree to Republican border security measures as a compromise.
A recent poll showed that 72% of voters support the DREAM Act, so the public overwhelmingly supports giving Dreamers permanent protection.
What do you think? Should the Biden Administration have expanded DACA eligibility? requirements with this new rule? Will the fate of DACA be decided in the courts, or will Congress finally vote on the DREAM Act?