Biden Administration Proposes New Rule to Protect DACA from Litigation

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Protesters hold various signs and banners at a DACA rally in San Francisco. Photo by Wikipedia user Pax Ahimsa Gethen
Supporters attend a rally for immigrants protected under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in San Francisco in 2017. Photo courtesy Pax Ahimsa Gethen

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a new rule proposal Tuesday aimed at helping protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from future legal objections.

The new policy looks to “preserve and fortify” DACA by addressing public concerns on how the program was implemented, according to an announcement by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

DACA was enacted in 2012 by President Barack Obama to allow undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, also known as “Dreamers,” to remain in the country without facing the threat of deportation. Since its inception, DACA has faced ongoing litigation, often from conservative state lawmakers who object to the program’s legitimacy.

In July 2021, a Texas judge ruled that the program was “unlawful” because the Obama administration failed to adhere to the federal rulemaking process, which violates the Administrative Procedures Act. While the ruling did not affect benefits for the more than 600,000 DACA recipients in the U.S., it blocked future applications from young immigrants seeking legal status.

To avoid future lawsuits, the Biden administration reintroduced the rule to follow certain requirements, which include providing public notice and allowing a 60-day comment period.

“The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal. However, only Congress can provide permanent protection.”