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U.S. District Court Orders DHS to Resume Accepting First-time DACA applications

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Pasricha & Patel

Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has ruled that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must post public notice no later than Monday, December 7, 2020 that DHS will begin to accept first-time Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications, renewal requests, and advanced parole travel documents on the terms that existed before September 5, 2017, which is when the current administration tried to end the DACA program.

Judge Garaufis also ordered DHS to make clear in its public notice that all DACA approvals and employment authorization documents (EADs) that were issued with one (1)-year approval periods will be extended to the original two (2) year validity period.

This ruling would allow those immigrants who initially qualify for the DACA program but who are not currently enrolled in it to finally be able to apply for this for the very first time.

This district court ruling came in response to the USCIS issuing an earlier memorandum dated July 28, 2020 in which the USCIS would reject all initial DACA applications from applicants who have never previously received DACA, while continuing to accept DACA renewal petitions. This memorandum had also limited the grants of deferred action and employment authorization for DACA recipients to no more than one (1) year.

Judge Garaufis’ latest ruling also follows his earlier ruling in November 2020 in which he found that the acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf lacked the legal authority to close down DACA to new applicants and also shorten the validity periods of the employment authorization document (EAD) for DACA renewal applicants.

At this time, it is unclear if the DHS will appeal this ruling or whether it will follow Judge Garaufis’ order and publish the notice and begin the process of accepting first-time DACA petitions. There is a separate law suit brought by Republican Attorneys General and which is set for hearing later in December in front of U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas that seeks to declare the whole DACA program unlawful and should be terminated in full.

As this matter remains fluid, we encourage readers to continue to check with our site for any news and updates regarding this and other immigration-related matters.

Should you have any questions or specific issues that you wish to discuss with us, I encourage you to contact our office to set up formal consultation so we can assist you further.