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Cornell University Law Professor: Reinstating DACA Presents Opportunities, Provides Security

For the first time in three years, those eligible for DACA in Central New York and nationwide will now be able to apply for the program.  The Trump Administration on Monday reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program following a court order. 

Cornell University Associate Law Professor Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer says reopening the program presents a significant opportunity.

"It means there's a whole group of people who never applied for DACA before because you have to be 15 to apply and they weren't 15 yet, or they didn't get around to it or have the money.  That whole group of people will now be able to apply."

The Obama administration program aims to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the US as minors from deportation.  Kelley-Widmer says it also includes work authorization, opening up a variety of job opportunities.

"People can pursue employment in their field.  They can support their families and themselves.  In addition, it comes with this protection from deportation.  Basically, the government is saying we know you're here and law abiding.  As long as you continue to be law abiding, we are not going to seek to deport you."

She says that’s a huge measure of security.  But Kelley-Widmer says there’s still plenty of uncertainty regarding the future of DACA.  The Trump administration has said it will appeal, even stating so on its immigration services website. 

"The government has basically already said we plan to keep litigating this.  In addition, some of the litigation around DACA that existed before [the ruling] continues.  Some states have challenged the legality of DACA.  That has not been decided upon by the US Supreme Court, so that issue is still open."

Meanwhile, she says the reinstatement of DACA also means recipients have permission to travel in and out of the country.  That applies to the college students she works with who can now study abroad again, or visit relatives. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at