The Biden administration on Monday renewed efforts to shield hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the United States as young children from deportation, the latest maneuver in a long-running drama over the policy's legality.
The proposed regulation attempts to satisfy concerns of a federal judge in Houston who ruled in July that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was illegal. It takes on heightened importance as prospects for legislation have dimmed.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the Obama administration overstepped its authority and did not properly seek feedback when it introduced DACA in 2012. He allowed for renewals to continue but prohibited new enrollments. The Biden administration is appealing. In the meantime, the new rule would solicit public comment to address the issue raised by Hanen.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called again on Monday for Congress to act swiftly to provide "the legal status they need and deserve." He said legislation should be enacted through spending negotiations, a tactic that suffered a potentially critical blow this month when the Senate parliamentarian prohibited it.
"The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country," said Mayorkas, using a commonly used term for immigrants who came to the U.S. with their parents as young children. "This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal."
Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School, said the administration's proposal carries no major changes and "is an effort to bulletproof the existing program from litigation challenges."
The 205-page proposal will be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, triggering a 60-day period for public feedback that ensures it is unlikely to take effect for several months. It adheres to the same criteria, which include arriving in the country before age 16, continuously residing in the United States since arrival and being in the country on June 15, 2012.
Since 2012, more than 825,000 immigrants have enrolled in DACA.