Federal judge restores DACA, orders DHS to quickly accept first-time applications

NEW YORK — A federal judge on Friday said he was fully restoring a program designed to protect young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, The Washington Post reported.

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Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, directed President Donald Trump’s administration to allow immigrants to file new applications for protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, according to The New York Times.

The decision reverses a memorandum issued this summer by Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the newspaper reported. Garaufis directed that the eight-year-old DACA program should be fully restored, and ordered the DHS to post a public notice by Monday to accept first-time applicants and ensure that work permits are valid for two years, the Post reported.

The Trump administration attempted to end DACA in 2017, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked that attempt in June, CNN reported.

Approximately 640,000 immigrants are enrolled in the DACA program, according to the Post.

Wolf’s memo in July reduced the DACA work permits to one year, but Garaufis ruled last month that the acting secretary had unlawfully risen to the agency’s top job and vacated the memo, according to the Post.

“This is a really big day for DACA recipients and immigrant young people,” Karen Tumlin, director of the Justice Action Center, who litigated the class-action case, told the Times. “It opens the door for more than a million immigrant youth who have been unfairly denied their chance to apply for DACA.”

In its ruling, the court found that the Trump administration was “arbitrary and capricious” in its attempt to end the Obama-era program, NBC News reported. Existing applicants also must reapply every year, but can remain in the program.

The National Immigration Law Center called the ruling a “major victory” in a tweet on Friday.

“This is a major victory for immigrant youth, led by immigrant youth. We would not be celebrating this day were it not for our courageous plaintiffs that fought to affirm that their #HomeIsHere,” the organization said. “This is a day to celebrate, and we look forward to working with the incoming Biden administration to create a permanent solution for immigrant youth and communities.”

The Trump administration, DHS and Justice Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.