The Biden administration announced Monday it would take new steps to save DACA, an Obama-era program that protects undocumented people brought to the U.S. unlawfully as children from being deported.
The new proposal aims to re-create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as a formal policy. DACA has been caught up in legal battles for years over whether it was properly implemented.
In July, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the program was unlawful because the government failed to follow necessary procedures when creating it. He blocked the government from accepting new DACA applications but allowed the program to continue for those already enrolled in it.
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that the proposed rule was an important first step but that ultimately Congress had to take action to protect the program.
“However, only Congress can provide permanent protection,” said Mayorkas. “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.”
Democrats are pushing to include sweeping immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for DACA holders, in their $3.5 trillion spending plan.
According to the new rule, in order to qualify for DACA a person must:
- Have arrived in the United States before they turned 16
- Have continuously lived in the United States since June 15, 2007
- Are currently enrolled in school or have graduated
- Haven’t been convicted of a felony
- Don’t pose a threat to public safety or national security
The government posted the proposed rule in the Federal Register on Monday and it will be open for a 60-day public comment period.