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Despite Favorable Ruling, Uncertainty Surrounds DACA For Next Several Weeks

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Kathia Garcia is a DACA recipient who feels relieved and happy that others like her will be able to continue receiving DACA protection. She and others gathered to cheer the Supreme Court's decision at L.A.'s MacArthur Park on Thursday. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Immigrants in the embattled DACA program got good news this past weekend when a federal judge ruled in their favor. But uncertainty still surrounds the Obama-era program which covers close to 200,000 young people in California.

The ruling invalidates the orders of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who in July issued a memo whittling the renewal period for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from two years to one year.

That meant participants would have had to pay double what they used to pay in renewal fees, which are about $500 per application, in seeking protection from deportation and work authorization.

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Under Wolf's direction, the agency also refused to accept new applicants. But a federal judge in New York said Wolf, who jumped over the order of succession to ascend to his position and was never confirmed by the Senate, could not lawfully add new restrictions to the program.

DACA has been in limbo since the Trump administration tried to end it in 2017. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that DACA may continue, but the administration kept pushing restrictions.

This latest ruling doesn’t yet mean that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees DACA, will accept new applicants, said Jean Lantz Reisz, who co-directs the USC Immigration Clinic.

"There's no guarantee that USCIS would even process these applications in the next nine weeks for new people," Reisz told KPCC's Take Two. "But then we have a change in administration."

President-elect Joe Biden has said he will reinstate DACA in his first 100 days.

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