DACA is Back... But is it Here to Stay?
On April 24, 2018, Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. ruled that the Trump Administration and The Department of Homeland Security must reopen Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to resume and allow ‘Dreamers’ to renew their DACA status. Judge Bates is now the third judge to rule against the shut down, following a federal judge in San Francisco, California and Brooklyn, New York earlier this year.
DACA is a program that was implemented in 2012 that protects young adults from deportation who were brought to theUnited States as minors; most of which arrived before the age of 5. The 2012 DACA Memorandum eloquently states that these young people generally "lacked the intent to violate the law" when they entered the United States as children and, in many cases, “knew only this country as home” and had “contributed to [the] country in significant ways.” DACA was available to any undocumented person who:
- came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- had lived in the United States continuously since at least June 15, 2007;
- was enrolled in school or had graduated from high school or been honorably discharged from the military;
- had not been convicted of certain criminal offenses and posed no threat to national security or public safety; and
- was under the age of thirty.
Under DACA, these young people have been able to obtain social security numbers, work, attend colleges and universities, pay taxes, receive federal student aid and other limited government assistance, travel abroad, obtain health insurance, participate in work-study programs, become eligible for mortgages and positively contribute to society in a plethora of ways. Protest, rallies, and peaceful marches erupted all around the country following this September 2017 decision and have continued to spark controversy, debate, and fear.
On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration made a decision to rescind the program as an initiative paralleled with his stance on immigration and immigration reform. In Judge Bates’ decision dated April 24, 2018, he declared “the Department’s decision to rescind DACA was predicated primarily on its legal judgment that the program was unlawful. That legal judgment was virtually unexplained, however, and so it cannot support the agency’s decision. And although the government suggests that DACA’s rescission was also predicated on the Department’s assessment of litigation risk, this consideration is insufficiently distinct from the agency’s legal judgment to alter the reviewability analysis. It was also arbitrary and capricious in its own right, and thus likewise cannot support the agency’s action. For these reasons, DACA’s rescission was unlawful and must be set aside.” In short of the legal mumbo-jumbo, Judge Bates found virtually no legal substance behind the proposal to cancel the program to begin with.
The Human Rights Campaign reported that upwards of 70,000 DACA recipients are LGBTQ. Catalina Vasquez was the first undocumented transgender person to attend Georgetown University. In 2013, she became the first transgender immigrant Latina appointed as commissioner for the D.C. Office of Latino Affairs. Vasquez advocated that "the prospects of deportation contains additional element of uncertainty, since they may be sent to countries that have poor LGBTQ human rights records. You can't send a trans or queer person back to Iran or Honduras and expect them to survive, much less thrive." "We don't want to demonize other cultures," she cautioned. "There are trans movements in all parts of the world. But there's a world out there that refuses to respect our identities."
Judge Bates has allowed 90 days for the Department of Homeland Security to create a lawful basis to cancel the program. If no lawful basis is created, new and renewal DACA applicants will resume being accepted.