Dreamers enrolled in the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA, received an early Christmas present. On December 4th, Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas G. Garaufas ordered that the program be restored, blocking the deportation of immigrants brought here as children by their undocumented parents.
Controversy was created when the Trump administration sought to terminate the initiative in 2017, leaving an estimated 800,000 folks in legal limbo. President-elect Joe Biden had promised to reinstate the DACA program once he took office in January, but now he will need to do nothing if the ruling by Judge Garaufas survives other pending litigation. For example, the attorney general in Texas has a suit filed in federal court, and President Trump could ask for an appeal in the ruling. So at least for now, the door is open for new applicants to enroll in DACA, and approximately 350,000 eligible individuals have been patiently waiting due to a ban on filing. Judge Garaufas also ruled that work permits for Dreamers must be increased to two years, despite a one year limit previously allowed by the Department of Homeland Security.
There is really very little appetite by the general public to take a hard core approach toward DACA recipients. Recent surveys conducted by Pew Research show that 75% of Americans are sympathetic regarding the plight of Dreamers, and rightfully so since our country is all that they have ever known. Regardless of what political party controls Congress, lawmakers understand that DACA is a hot button subject, and restoring it is the right thing to do.
“This is a great day for DACA and young immigrants,” says Karen Tumlin, director of the Justice Action Center. “Many of them have been waiting for three years.”
I have said many times that Joe Biden, who will become our oldest president in history at age 78, faces many challenges when he takes office. He will have to deal with the pandemic, which has spread out of control and will get worse after the holidays. The distribution of vaccines will be of the utmost importance. He will have to deal with a failing economy caused by business closures and people out of work who need help with another stimulus package. It’s going to be difficult and Joe will have too much on his plate. But one area where he can make an immediate impact is through immigration reform.
Joe, we know you’re a champion for poor people and minority communities across the nation. Black folks helped put you in office and you seem to be trying to return the favor. But don’t forget about brown folks who also need your assistance. Please don’t put their identity and importance to our country on the back burner. You are the only one who can make it happen.