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Since 2017, DACA recipients have remained in limbo. Photo: AL DÍA News
Since 2017, DACA recipients have remained in limbo. Photo: AL DÍA News

What Chad Wolf’s illegal appointment means for DACA recipients

A federal judge recently ruled that Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf assumed his position unlawfully. 

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This year has no doubt been a rollercoaster for all, but even more so for DACA recipients.

On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold DACA, a decision that President Donald Trump made clear would not stop his administration’s intent to terminate the program, and deport all beneficiaries back to their countries of origin

Despite the positive outcome, the Supreme Court did not fully side with DACA recipients, and reasoned it upheld the program due to a paperwork filing error by the Trump administration. An issue it worked quickly to fix. Since then — and before — DREAMERs have been left in limbo.

On Tuesday, July 28, the president’s administration announced it would continue to fight the Supreme Court’s order, and Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced it would take further action to rescind the program.

The administration then rejected all requests for DACA and associated applications or employment documents, rejected new and pending requests for advanced parole, and limited the period of “renewed deferred action” granted to one year.

This tactic, had Trump won re-election, would have made it easier for his administration to deport DACA beneficiaries because their status would expire sooner.

Thankfully, for the roughly 650,000 DREAMERs, Trump did not win re-election, and the status of Acting Secretary Wolf has been determined in their favor.

On Nov. 14, a federal judge ruled that Wolf did not have the authority to halt new applications to the Obama-era program.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York, found that Wolf’s suspension of new applicants to the program was invalid because he was not lawfully appointed to his position.

The decision also puts doubt on Wolf’s ability to enact policies in the final months of lame-duck President Trump’s term.

The ruling means that Wolf’s suspension of new applications to the DACA program are invalid. 

“Once again, courts have ruled that DACA is legal and Wolf's appointment is illegal,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote on Twitter.

Now, what are the next steps?

The federal judge’s ruling does not immediately eliminate the Trump administration’s changes to DACA, reported the Washington Post.

The government and various groups that brought the case must meet to discuss further steps, and the future of the program.

For years — since 2017 when Trump announced the end of DACA— DREAMERs have remained in limbo, and no plans for long-term action have been presented by the upcoming administration.

President-elect Joe Biden has already pledged to reinstate DACA within his first 100 days in office, exploring “all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation,” and giving DREAMERs the right to receive federal student aid.

But his pledge lacks permanence.

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