The Biden administration will codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a federal regulation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Tuesday.
The move will apply to “Dreamers,” or migrants who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, requiring that they’ve lived continuously in the U.S. since 2007, studied in a U.S. school, or served in the military and don’t have serious criminal records. The rule will be effective starting Oct. 31.
“Today, we are taking another step to do everything in our power to preserve and fortify DACA, an extraordinary program that has transformed the lives of so many Dreamers,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
“Thanks to DACA, we have been enriched by young people who contribute so much to our communities and our country. Yet, we need Congress to pass legislation that provides an enduring solution for the young Dreamers who have known no country other than the United States as their own.”
The decision comes as the fate of DACA remains uncertain in the courts after a Republican-led lawsuit challenged the program.
A Texas federal judge ruled in July 2021 that DACA was illegal, issuing a stay pending appeal at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The Biden administration is appealing the ruling and a decision is expected, CBS News reported.
In his decision to issue a stay, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen suggested that the federal government “remedy” DACA’s “shortfalls.”
The program began in 2012 and has allowed more than 800,000 people who arrived as children to stay in the U.S., according to DHS.
President Joe Biden previously asked Congress in June 2021 to pass the U.S. Citizenship Act to offer “Dreamers” undocumented a pathway to citizenship in early June, but the move was met with partisan backlash.
“I will do everything within my power to protect Dreamers, but Congressional Republicans should stop blocking a bill that provides a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. It is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do for our economy and our communities,” Biden said in a statement.
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