The Biden administration has finalized a rule that would transform the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, immigration policy into a federal regulation as a way to protect the program from future legal challenges.
The rule is set to take effect on Oct. 31 and will codify the decade-long program into the federal government’s code of regulations.
“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,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CBS News on Wednesday. “Thanks to DACA, we have been enriched by young people who contribute so much to our communities and our country.”
According to USCIS, early 70% of the 611,270 immigrants enrolled in DACA are 30 or younger, and approximately 17,000 are under the age of 21. Many of these recipients have spent most of their lives in the U.S. and haven’t been to their home country since they left (DACA recipients are unable to travel outside of the country for risk of losing their status).
In its current state, there’s no path to citizenship for Dreamers. They’re recipients for life unless they marry a U.S. citizen and apply for citizenship through their spouse. Biden’s codifying of DACA means recipients are safe from deportation for now, but they’re still limited on what they can actually do in America.
DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to live and work legally without fear of deportation. However, since its inception state and federal lawmakers have attempted to close the program or freeze it to keep new applicants from entering the country. Biden’s new rule doesn’t mean opponents of the program will stop fighting it, however. State and federal politicians have already said they were looking for arguments against the new rule.
After months of plummeting job approval numbers and ambitious proposals that failed to go anywhere, Biden seems to have turned a corner in recent weeks. Between the Inflation Reduction Act and his move on student debt relief, Democrats seem to have some real moves going into midterms, though whether such actions will help or hurt their electoral goals remains to be seen.