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Judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA, accept new applicants

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors from deportation, scoring a key win for immigrant advocacy groups.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, a Clinton appointee, restores the Obama-era program and also mandates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) post a public notice by Monday saying it is accepting new applicants.

It would mark the first time since 2017 that the government has admitted new immigrants into the program.

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Approved applicants will also receive two-year work permits under the ruling, as opposed to the one-year permits the administration had proposed.

Garaufis’s ruling centered around a memo acting Homeland Security secretary Chad WolfChad WolfLawmakers slam DHS watchdog following report calling for 'multi-year transformation' Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave MORE issued in July that curtailed DACA recipients’ work permits to a year and banned new applicants. The court ruled last month that Wolf had ascended to the post in violation of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and said Friday that the memo was void. The order mandates the White House administer DACA under the guidelines that were in place when the program was first created during the Obama administration.

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“The court believes that these additional remedies are reasonable,” Garaufis wrote. “Indeed, the Government has assured the court that a public notice along the lines described is forthcoming.”

Roughly a million undocumented immigrant teens and young adults will now be able to apply for the program following the order, according to some estimates. About 640,000 immigrants are currently enrolled in the DACA program.

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules Trump allies launching nonprofit focused on voter fraud DOJ asks for outside lawyer to review Giuliani evidence MORE has repeatedly taken aim at DACA during his administration as part of his efforts to curb overall immigration into the U.S., moving to completely end the program in September 2017. However, the program’s cancellation was paused by several federal courts, and the Supreme Court in June blocked the administration from ending the program.

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenRepublican seeks to use Obama energy policies to criticize Biden  WSJ editorial board: 'Purging Liz Cheney for honesty would diminish' GOP DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates MORE had said before the ruling that he planned to fully restore the DACA program following his January inauguration.

Advocacy groups hailed the ruling, saying it will put undocumented immigrants” brought to the U.S. as minors at ease.

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“Thousands of young people who should have been eligible for deportation protection and work authorization have been waiting for over three years to access this life-changing program and live with peace of mind in the country they call home," said Fwd.us President Todd Schulte. "It is well past time for DHS to finally follow the repeated judicial orders and begin to accept these applications." 

“The ruling is a huge victory for people who have been waiting to apply for DACA for the first time,” added Veronica Garcia, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Wolf’s decision to suspend the program was just another attempt by the Trump administration to wield its extremely racist and anti-immigrant views and policies.”

The Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, which can appeal the ruling, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

Updated: 7:30 p.m.