The Biden administration on Wednesday took steps to shore up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an immigration policy put in place during the Obama administration a decade ago.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a “final rule” — or guidelines — that it says will help secure DACA, which blocks deportations of some undocumented people brought to the United States as kids. The new rule is meant to be the Biden administration’s continuation of a 2012 memo, written by then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, which outlined the administration’s expectations to DHS officials.
“Dreamers are part of the fabric of this nation,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Wednesday.
“Today, we are fulfilling our commitment to preserve and strengthen DACA by finalizing a rule that will reinforce protections, like work authorization, that allow Dreamers to live more freely and to invest in their communities more fully,” he added, before calling on Congress to pass a bill that provides DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship.
A DHS press release said the program has protected more than 800,000 young people from deportation. In a statement, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also called on Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for “young Dreamers who have known no country other than the United States as their own.”
It’s a decidedly pro-DACA stance from the administration, and a deliberate rebuttal to Republicans who’ve sought to destroy it since its beginning. Last year, a conservative federal judge in Texas ruled the program is unconstitutional and barred the administration from approving new applications to the program. The Biden administration is appealing that ruling. But Wednesday’s announcement notes that despite the judge's halting of new approvals, people who’ve already been approved can still have their status renewed and benefit from the program.
The federal court ruling delivered a blow to DACA last year. But the Biden administration isn't ready to throw in the towel.