Congress has the power to protect DACA

DACA – The Only Alternative for Thousands of Dreamers

The term Dreamers refers to young immigrants who came to the US without legal documentation when they were minors. They have been a part of the American culture for as long as they can remember and, throughout history, have become a mainstay of the national economy as workers in all kinds of sectors of the local market.

Naturally, Dreamers do not have many options to obtain legal documentation in the US, mainly because, even though they came to the country as children, they crossed the borders without prior authorization, which is a violation of local immigration law.

In 2012, in an effort to protect these young immigrants, the Obama administration implemented a benefit called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which is a deportation relief program that allows eligible Dreamers to reside legally in the US for two years with the possibility of extension.

Since then, DACA has become the only legitimate tool for Dreamers. However, this immigration benefit went through a series of legal battles during Donald Trump’s term, between 2017 and early 2021.

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Judge recently ruled against DACA

In one of the legal proceedings against DACA, a Texas judge was to decide whether the program meets the mandatory requirements to be a legitimate immigration benefit. In mid-July 2021, the judge ruled against DACA, stating that the Obama administration did not follow due process when implementing the program.

Following the judge’s verdict, the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) can no longer approve new DACA applications.

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Congress has the power to protect DACA

Currently, it seems as if the only viable alternative to protect Dreamers is Congressional intervention through an immigration bill, which is still uncertain due to the gigantic controversy related to the immigration sector and the surge of illegal border crossings.

However, according to a recent report by The Washington Post, Congress has a tool at its disposal that would allow it to overturn the Texas judge’s ruling and protect DACA. This option is known as the “Congressional Review Act”.

This act was implemented in 1996 and, broadly speaking, allows Congress to expedite the process to review new legislation (rules or policies) issued by government entities or agencies. Through this law, Congress could invalidate or overturn the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) rule that bans the processing of new DACA applications, which is consistent with the judge’s verdict.

If Congress intervenes in this way, the DACA ruling would be automatically overturned and the USCIS would be able to receive new applications again. Adding to that, it is important to explain that the “Congressional Review Act” prohibits repealed rules from being reissued.

The Washington Post concludes that “This use of the Congressional Review Act, though admittedly non-traditional, is both logically coherent and entirely legal”.

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