What Do The Wolf Memo And The Edlow Memo Say?
The Wolf memo and the Edlow memo both deal with DACA. In addition to saying the administration is not going to accept any new DACA applications, the memos also limited approvals for DACA applications from two years, per President Obama’s original DACA order, to one year. These memos essentially limited who can apply under the program after it was taken away by the administration two years ago.
The Trump administration wrote these memos while losing their case in the Supreme Court, which ruled that the government actually put away DACA in violation of the due process rights of the petitioners (the organizations that sued on behalf of the people). Specifically, the Supreme Court said that the government did have the right to end DACA but, in doing so, had violated the procedures under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). To this day, however, the government is not actually abiding by that Supreme Court decision.
As an interesting aside, a New York judge ruled this month that U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf was not appointed to be the head of USCIS in the proper way. Under the Federal Succession Act, memos signed by someone in an acting capacity at DHS are actually illegal. That means no one has to follow the Wolf Memo.
I predict that in the first month of the Biden administration he will sign an administrative order to extend the DACA program. While it’s uncertain if he’ll have a DAPA program for the parents, he has promised to send DACA to Congress to get it passed in order to return their citizenship.
What Is the Current Status of DACA? What Changes Do You Expect to See Under the Biden Administration?
DACA is currently in a state of flux, due to the Supreme Court ruling that Trump had the power to take it away but that he didn’t follow the Administrative Procedures Act, which applicants had relied on for years, in doing so. By ruling that it is within President Trump’s power to take the program away, the Supreme court also tacitly ruled that President Obama did actually have the power to enact the DACA program in the first place. This helps DACA recipients by giving them the argument that DACA is a legal program. USCIS responded by saying they were not going to abide by the Supreme Court ruling because it was not final (due to the Supreme Court sending it back to the lower court), even though they technically should be following the ruling.
Once the Biden administration comes in on January 21st, he and Kamala Harris will sign an executive order to extend DACA. I’ve added links about this and other potential immigration reform on my website, which you can view by going to 2021immigrationreform.com.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted the DACA Recipients?
DACA recipients have been impacted in two major ways. The first is that thousands of DACA recipients are working on the frontlines of the pandemic as doctors and nurses. Many doctors are actually here on DACA or (J) visas. In September, USCIS announced they would close a lot of their offices due to financial strain during the pandemic. That means that the processing times have been significantly prolonged, which is the second major impact of COVID on DACA recipients. While the delay in processing affects every immigrant, it especially affects DACA recipients because they can lose their work permits.
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