DACA Program Could Come Back Under the Biden Administration

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The presidential election has marked Joe Biden as president-elect after gaining the majority of votes in many swing states, and marks a silver lining for illegal immigrants who hope to stay in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In 2017, President Donald Trump ended DACA, sparking a lengthy and violent legal battle that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The incident left DACA beneficiaries, often called “Dreamers,” in a state of uncertainty for several years. Trump’s administration has spent recent months refusing to process new applications and slashed DACA eligibility, despite court orders.

However, most people are hoping that Biden, who was vice president when Barack Obama established the program in 2012, would breathe new life into the process. The president-elect has promised his citizens that he would reinstate DACA within 100 days of his first day in office.

Oakland resident Vanessa Mejia who is a DACA recipient, said she could finally dream again. Mejia’s aunt brought her into the U.S. from El Salvador when she was only eight years old to be reunited with her parents. She said, “I dream that someday I’ll be able to visit my )first) country again and be called a (legal U.S.) resident instead of an alien.”

Biden had previously stated that he prioritizes the DACA program, which he considered to be a crucial part of U.S. immigration policy. Multiple surveys and studies showed that Americans believe DACA recipients have the right to stay in the U.S. The Democrat said the residents were also contributors to the American economy, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

More than 400 executive actions have stifled immigration and refugee resettlement during the Trump administration.

Maria Praeli aspires to be just like her mother and has gone to Washington to work on immigration policy for the FWD.us group. Praeli’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Peru to get her older sister treated. But because they came to the country illegally, they are unable to leave the country.

“My grandmother passed away in Peru, and my mother couldn’t go. I remember my mom just hugging the iPad and crying and watching her mother’s funeral on an iPad.” Praeli said. She added it was the biggest injustice she has ever seen, that a daughter could not say goodbye to her mother in person due to the immigration system’s flaws.

Praeli grew up in Connecticut with no knowledge that was an undocumented immigrant. She only found out about her situation when she entered high school. After she graduated from Quinnipiac University on a scholarship, she told Spectrum News the DACA program was “life-changing.”

With DACA, Praeli would be able to apply for a driver’s license and get a job in whatever career she wanted to pursue. Additionally, she would take comfort that the program would protect her from deportation, Spectrum Local News reported.

Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, had previously suspended the acceptance of new DACA applications. However, a federal judge ruled on Saturday that his decision was illegal and that he did not have the authority to stop the process.

U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York’s Nicholas Garaufis said that Wolf’s memo was invalid because he was not yet fully appointed in his position with the DHS. The situation mirrors Trump’s reliance on using appointed personnel to enact policy despite not being confirmed by the Senate.

Garaufis said, “DHS failed to follow the order of succession as it was lawfully designated.” Meaning, Wolf’s actions and decision were not following the chain-of-command and were taken without legal authority, VOX reported.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.