Federal immigration authorities, in a victory for so-called Dreamers, quietly announced they have resumed accepting requests for renewals in DACA, the Obama-era program that shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
“Until further notice, if you already applied for #DACA and it was expiring, this is your chance to reapply,” California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra tweeted Saturday night.
The government’s announcement, made without fanfare on a website Saturday, came four days after a federal judge in San Francisco issued an order temporarily blocking the Trump administration’s decision to phase out the program.
In a statement posted on its website, Citizenship and Immigration Services said, “Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.”
DACA refers to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program allowed some young immigrants in the country illegally to obtain two-year permits to stay legally, work and attend school.
Saturday’s announcement means that individuals who had been granted “deferred action” may request a renewal. The government is now accepting requests from people who had never been granted DACA status.
The preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the halting of DACA was issued Jan. 9 by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in response to lawsuits by the state of California, the University of California and attorneys general from Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. In a tweet a day after Alsup issued the ruling, President Trump denounced the judge’s action, saying that “it just shows how broken and unfair our court system is.”
Critics said President Obama abused executive power by creating DACA. Last September, Trump ordered that the program end by March, and lawmakers have been working since then to come up with a legislative remedy to protect the Dreamers. Some were brought in the country illegally as children; others entered the U.S. legally but overstayed visas.
About 700,000 people obtained protections from deportation through DACA. Advocates for immigrants estimate that each day more than 120 DACA recipients have been losing their protected status because of Trump’s order. They estimate that number will swell to 1,000 a day in March unless the program is revived.