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Appeals Court Declares DACA Illegal, Allows Program to Remain, For Now

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The  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA,) is illegal, but has allowed those already enrolled to renew their status despite the program’s now uncertain future, reports Eileen Sullivan for the New York Times.

The judges sent the case back to Federal District Court in Houston to consider a new administration policy issued in August, intended to go in effect this month, to protect the program.

Advocates said the ruling signaled that the only chance for DACA to survive was for Congress to pass a law to protect young immigrants.

Immigrants in the DACA program primarily from Mexico, other parts of Latin America, and the Caribbean, are on average about 26 years old, with the oldest nearing 40.

Their status has been precarious for years, ever since it was created by former president Obama in 2012, and the Biden administration has repeatedly called on lawmakers to pass legislation enshrining protections for young undocumented immigrants. The protection lasts two years at a time and is renewable, but it does not offer a path to citizenship.

In August, the Department of Homeland Security announced a  final rule for the program, effective Oct. 31, 2022, which “codifies existing policies with limited amendments to “preserve and fortify DACA.”

As of December 2021,  latest date for which data are available, the number of participants in the DACA rose slightly to 611, 470. It has fallen to a low of 590, 070 in July 2021

Additional Reading:  At Its 10th Anniversary, DACA Faces a Tenuous Future Despite Societal Benefits. 

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