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US bishops praise judge’s decision to reinstate DACA, call for path to citizenship

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CNA Staff, Dec 9, 2020 / 03:30 am MT (CNA).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauded a federal judge’s recent decision to restore the full Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, including the resumption of new applicants.

Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville of Washington, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, praised the decision in a Dec. 8 statement. He emphasized the Church’s support of immigrant communities.

“We welcome the full reinstatement of the DACA program and are particularly pleased that with this ruling, youth who are first-time applicants are allowed to apply for the program for the first time since 2017. The DACA program directly benefits immigrant youth, their families, and the communities we serve,” he said.

“To all Dreamers, the Catholic Church continues to stand with you and will advocate with you to ensure you reach your God-given potential here in the United States.”

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must resume accepting new DACA applications beginning on Dec. 7.

DACA is a program created by the Obama administration in 2012 to allow certain immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to apply for a delay of deportation and work authorization. Recipients – known as Dreamers – must renew their status every two years.

In September of 2017, the Trump administration announced it would be winding down the program and accepting no new applications for deferred action. It gave Congress a six-month window to enact parts of the program into law.

Congress failed to pass legislation by the deadline in March of 2018, and the administration moved ahead with its effort to end the program.

The Supreme Court in June ruled against the Trump administration, saying that its process of ending DACA violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it did not provide “a reasoned explanation” for its decision. However, since the ruling was made on procedural grounds, it permitted the Trump administration to continue working to end DACA.

The Department of Homeland Security responded to the Supreme Court ruling by saying it would review DACA, and would not accept any new applications for deferred action during the review process. It said that current recipients could apply for a renewal of their status, but that it would only be granted in one-year increments on a case-by-case basis.

Judge Garaufis ruled Friday that DACA must be fully restored to its pre-2017 status, including acceptance of new applications and two-year permits.

The Department of Homeland Security said it would comply with the order but it may appeal the decision.

Around 800,000 immigrants are estimated to have benefitted from the DACA program by the time the Trump administration chose to end it in 2017. Currently, around 670,000 DACA recipients work in the United States, the U.S. bishops’ conference says.

Bishop Dorsonville stressed that while the restoration of the DACA program is a good first step, Congress should develop legislation that provides immigrants with a pathway to citizenship. He said this will help provide communities with security and the ability to thrive.

“We hope the reinstatement of DACA begins a new chapter of possibility on the issue of immigration, including the introduction and passage of legislative reform by Congress that addresses our broken immigration system,” he said.

“We will continue to advocate for reform that values family unity, honors due process and the rule of law, recognizes the contributions of workers, protects the vulnerable fleeing persecution, and addresses the root causes of migration.”

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