Credit: Facebook/32BJ SEIU

32BJ SEIU, advocates and elected officials celebrated a major victory this month.

Earlier this month, the U.S District Court for Eastern District of New York ordered President Donald Trump’s administration to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As a result, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started accepting parole applications (old and new) and extending an applicant’s protection term from one to two years.

32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg welcomed the news that’s significant to his constituents.

“As one of the largest unions in the nation with majority-immigrant membership, we were deeply heartened by the recent judicial reinstatement of the entire DACA program and the announcement yesterday of the extension of Temporary Protected Status for the vast majority of those it covers,” stated Bragg. “These two programs have provided legal status for well over a million men, women and children for years, if not decades. The extension of TPS until October 2021 for recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras and Nepal provides a crucial period during which the Biden administration and a newly elected Congress can finally provide these longstanding U.S. residents with a pathway to citizenship.”

Started by Obama in 2012, DACA is designed to allow a certain set of immigrants who were illegally brought to America as children to stay, live and work in the United States and be exempted from deportation. The initiative’s been on the virtual ropes for much of the decade. It’s been caught up in litigation that’s kept the futures of close to 650,000 people in limbo.

But DACA recipients aren’t out of the woods yet. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (SHS) officials said, in a statement that “DHS will comply with the order while it remains in effect, but DHS may seek relief from the order.”

Elsewhere, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) celebrated the ruling and said, in a statement that many DACA recipients are essential cogs in the wheel that’s combating the coronavirus and should be rewarded for that.

“Over a year ago, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act to provide young Dreamers with the certainty and stability that they deserve, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell failed to take up this critical legislation,” read their statement. “More than 200,000 DACA recipients are essential workers, including nearly 30,000 who are healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. The United States is their home, and it is long overdue that our laws reflect their contributions to our communities.”

Bragg and pro-DACA advocates see a glimmer of hope with the recent news and with President-elect Joe Biden taking over in January and hope that immigrants can now live and work in the country they love.

“And the reinstatement of DACA for first-time applicants continues a program that has allowed almost a million young people the opportunity to pursue their dreams, and also provides a firm base to extend permanent status,” Bragg stated. “These two actions come as a tremendous relief to immigrant communities everywhere, including at our union. At least 5,000 members of 32BJ are covered by TPS, and many others have loved ones covered by DACA. It bolsters our resolve to fight for deep, lasting immigration reform as we enter a new, far more hopeful year.”