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Judge rules Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals should continue

WASHINGTON (CNS): Catholic groups in the United States of America (US) hailed an April 24 ruling by Judge John Bates, of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, saying that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme that benefits young adults who came into the country without legal permission as minors, can still accept new and renewed applications and must maintain protections that prevent those who are enrolled in it from being deported.
The administration of the president, Donald Trump announced in September 2017 it would shut down the programme while urging Congress to find a legislative solution to help the approximately 800,000 who benefit from it.
However the judge said the administration did not explain why DACA was unlawful when it announced it was going to rescind it, and said that until it can do so, during the next 90 days, it must accept and renew applications.
“DACA’s rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the programme was unlawful,” he said referring to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which administers the programme.
“Neither the meagre legal reasoning nor the assessment of litigation risk provided by DHS to support its rescission decision is sufficient to sustain termination of the DACA programme,” he wrote in the ruling.
DACA began in 2012 under executive order by then-president, Barack Obama, to give protection from deportation as well as a work permit and other documents to young adults who qualified.
“I welcome the decision but this should not let Congress off the hook to do what’s right and find a solution immediately,” said Ashley Feasley, director of policy for Migration and Refugee Services at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Beneficiaries—known as Dreamers—and their families “cannot live (from) court decision to court decision,” she said.
The US bishops know and see the anxiety and fear many of them go through on a daily basis and they are pushing for a prompt solution in Congress, she added.
“It’s time for Congress to act,” Feasley said, because those who are affected by the lack of solutions and action “cannot wait until after another court decision or the 2018 election.”
She stressed, “They need meaningful legislative protection now.” 
On April 25, the head of the US bishops’ Committee on Migration announced support for proposed bipartisan legislation that would pave a path to citizenship for 800,000 young adults who qualify for DACA and which would include others as well.
The proposed Uniting and Securing America Act, or USA Act, would also call for an increase in security at the border with Mexico, an increase in immigration judges and ties US aid to certain Central American countries to efforts to address smuggling and steps to combat corruption, as well as to strengthening rule of law at home.
The Ohio-based Ignatian Solidarity Network, which comes into contact with many DACA beneficiaries at Jesuit institutions around the country, said a solution must be found and quickly. Those affected have shared their “tremendous fear regarding their ability to complete their education and pursue careers, their safety and the safety of their families, and their ability to remain part of communities that they have called home and contributed to for a significant portion of their lives,” Christopher Kerr, the network’s executive director, said.
“Congress must act to provide a permanent legislative solution that recognises the contributions of Dreamers and their families in our society. Congressional leaders have the bipartisan support to move forward on common sense legislation that responds to the interests of both parties,” he said. 
“The Ignatian Solidarity Network stands with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in supporting legislation that would provide Dreamers with protection from deportation and a path to citizenship.”
The April 24 decision was not the first time lower courts questioned the administration’s move to rescind the programme, but it was the first time the Department of Homeland Security was told to accept new applications pending a determination by the courts.

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