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Changes in DACA

The current status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program hinges on a pivotal hearing set to take place this week in a South Texas federal court. The DACA program, introduced in 2012, has provided temporary relief from deportation to approximately 700,000 young immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” and has granted renewable work permits every two years.

This hearing was requested by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and will be overseen by Judge Andrew Hanen. Lawyers from MALDEF, along with the state of New Jersey and the Department of Justice, will present oral arguments before Judge Hanen, seeking to resolve the case without a trial.

In 2021, Judge Hanen ruled that DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), deeming the program “illegal”. However, following the implementation of a new version of DACA in October 2022, the Biden administration took steps to ensure the new program complies with necessary procedures, in response to Hanen’s ruling.

The new DACA, which came into effect on October 31, 2022, retains the same requirements and regulations as the original program. This new version of the program sought to correct the issues identified in the original lawsuit, including publishing program changes in the Federal Register and opening a space for public comment, in compliance with the APA.

According to José Muñoz, Communications Director of United We Dream (UWD), one of the main “Dreamers” organizations in the country, “After October 31, everything remains the same”. Muñoz also urged program beneficiaries to renew their documents on time, stressing the importance of not leaving this process until the last minute.

This week’s hearing could have significant implications for the future of DACA and the Dreamers who rely on the program. However, the final resolution is not expected to be immediate, given the complex legal and political context in which this case finds itself.