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Key Points
  • On December 4, 2020, a US District Court in Brooklyn, NY ordered DHS to accept new DACA applications
  • DHS must notify the public by December 7, 2020, that it will accept and adjudicate new applications
  • DHS must issue DACA work permits for two years instead of one year
  • The latest order follows lengthy DACA litigation under the Trump Administration
  • Approximately one million qualified minors may be eligible to apply to DACA

On December 4, 2020, a US District Court in Brooklyn, New York ordered the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to start accepting new DACA applications. DHS must notify the public by Monday, December 07, 2020, that it will start accepting and adjudicating program applications.

What are the Changes?

DHS will start accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for the first time since 2017. The court also ordered the agency to issue two-year work permits for approved program applicants. Earlier this year, the Trump Administration proposed limiting work permits to one year. The DACA program originally allowed two-year work permit terms.


The DACA program was established by President Obama in 2012. The program provides a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented minors who were brought to the United States illegally at a young age. Through the program, minors can live and work in the US without the risk of deportation. Since its inception, DACA has protected over 800,000 minors from deportation.

DACA has been the subject of extensive litigation under the Trump Administration. President Trump called for an end to the program in 2017, which prompted multiple lawsuits to be filed against the Administration. Several appellate courts subsequently ruled against the Administration as well. On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court blocked the program’s termination in a 5-4 ruling. One month later, DHS issued a memo imposing limitations on the DACA program. The memo was later invalidated on November 14, 2020, by the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Looking Ahead

Approximately one million undocumented minors in the United States who qualify for the DACA program may now be eligible to apply for the program.

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