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Judge Orders Trump Administration To Restore DACA As It Existed Under Obama

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Photo by Damian Dovarganes AP

People are pictured demonstrating in June in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Immigrant rights advocates hailed Friday's ruling allowing new applications as a "huge victory for people who have been waiting to apply for DACA for the first time."

A federal judge has reversed the Trump administration's latest round of rules placing further limits on the Obama-era program that shields undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children from deportation.

Under the order filed Friday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn instructed the Department of Homeland Security to begin accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as soon as Monday.

In his ruling, Garaufis said the terms of the federal program must be immediately restored to what they were "prior to the attempted rescission of September 2017" when the White House began a series of maneuvers to dismantle the program.

The judge also instructed officials to reinstate two-year permits for qualifying applicants. Over the summer, the administration had begun issuing one-year permits.

DACA currently protects about 640,000 undocumented young immigrants. As of July, an estimated 300,000 young people living in the U.S. are eligible for the program and still waiting for a chance to apply. That includes 55,000 who have aged into eligibility over the last three years.

"The ruling is a huge victory for people who have been waiting to apply for DACA for the first time," Veronica Garcia, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said in a statement.

She added that acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf's "decision to suspend the program was just another attempt by the Trump administration to wield its extremely racist and anti-immigrant views and policies."

Garaufis' decision is the latest court ruling against the administration.

In June, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's 2017 attempt to end DACA, saying the administration's reasoning was "arbitrary and capricious." In July, a federal court in Maryland also ordered the administration to start accepting new applicants.

But 11 days later, Wolf issued a memorandum cutting renewal permits from two years to one and blocking all new applications.

That prompted a November ruling by Garaufis saying that Wolf was not lawfully serving as DHS acting secretary when he issued the changes "because the Department of Homeland Security failed to follow its order of succession, as it was lawfully designated under the Homeland Security Act."

As a result, Garaufis vacated the changes initiated by Wolf.

Wolf has been serving as acting secretary since November 2019; he has not been confirmed by the Senate. Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned in April 2019, was the last DHS secretary to be confirmed by the Senate.

Court documents said that DHS has until Monday to post a public notice "displayed prominently on its website and on the websites of all other relevant agencies, that it is accepting first-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA."

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