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Judge orders full restoration of DACA immigration program in latest upset to key Trump policy

Judge orders full restoration of DACA immigration program in latest upset to key Trump policy
The US government has three days to fully reopen the Obama-era scheme granting protection to illegal immigrants who came to the US as kids, a federal judge has ruled. Scrapping DACA was a key goal for the Trump administration.

In a Friday ruling, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the US District Court in Brooklyn ordered that, by Monday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must post a public notice that it will accept new petitions under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) scheme. No bids have been accepted since 2017, when the Trump administration attempted to phase out the 2012 program.

As many as one million young adults and teens are estimated to be qualified but not enrolled in DACA due to the government’s attempt to end it. It grants protection from deportation and a path to working legally, but not a change in legal status.

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The court order follows up on an earlier November ruling by the same judge, which found that acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf had no authority to curtail DACA, because his appointment was illegal. Wolf imposed restrictions in a July memo describing how the department should manage the program, closing it to new applicants and reducing the term of work permits for those already in the program to one year. Under Garaufis’ ruling, applicants will be granted two-year work permits, as originally intended.

Wolf’s guidelines were issued after the US Supreme Court ruled in June against the Trump administration's attempt to end DACA for good. The government argued that the program overreached the executive authority. The proposed scrapping was put on hold by several federal courts before being turned down by the USSC.

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DACA is meant for illegal immigrants who were under 16 when they arrived in the US and have lived in the country since at least 2007. Applicants must have no felony record and have a high school education, a GED (General Education Development certificate), or an honorary discharge in the military to qualify. Dubbed ‘Dreamers’, there are currently more than 640,000 people enrolled under the program.

Illegal immigration was a hot-button issue for the 2016 presidential election, when Donald Trump famously promised to build a wall along the US southern border and make Mexico pay for it. The unsuccessful attack on DACA was part of his administration’s drive to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

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