The federal government revealed Monday that it plans to submit a proposal to convert the immigration relief known as DACA into a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulation, and thus avoid future lawsuits against it.
As part of the process, DHS will open a 60-day public comment period on this proposed rulemaking to protect the immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
As reported by cbsnews.com, the rule will be formally published on Tuesday and it would give the public 60 days to submit comments for or against DACA. This policy provides deportation protection and work permits to roughly 590,000 immigrants known colloquially as “Dreamers.”
Homeland Security officials said the proposed rule relies on the DACA guidelines outlined in 2012, when the Obama administration created the program and embraces the “consistent judgment” that immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors should not be a priority for deportation.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that the proposed rulemaking was an important step to recognize Dreamer´s contribution to the United States. “The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country. This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal.”
“However, only Congress can provide permanent protection. I support the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urge Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve,” added Mayorkas.
The rule’s publication would be the most significant effort by the federal government to safeguard an immigration program that has been threatened since 2017, when the Trump administration tried to discontinue it.
The integrity of the program will remain the same but it will go through the normal regulatory process and thus avoid being the target of lawsuits that have put obstacles in its path over the years.
Among the proposed changes in the 205-page rulemaking, DHS will give DACA applicants the option of whether or not to obtain employment authorization, for which there would be an additional $85 cost for those seeking to obtain a work permit.
Pathway to U.S. citizenship
The prerequisites for DACA eligibility include having no serious criminal convictions, arriving in the U.S before the age 16, living in the country since at least 2007 and earning an American high school diploma, a GED or serving honorably in the military. DACA does not allow its beneficiaries to adjust their status and obtain lawful permanent residency.
For two decades, multiple efforts to place “Dreamers” on the pathway to U.S. citizenship have collapsed, despite significant public support.