By Team

WASHINGTON D.C. (CBSMiami/AP) — The Biden administration is taking steps to shield hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the United States as young children from deportation.

It is the latest maneuver in a long-running drama over the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

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President Donald Trump tried to terminate the program; an effort blocked by the Supreme Court.

For years, Congress has tried and failed to pass legislation to provide a pathway to citizenship or otherwise address the immigration system. In the absence of legislation, the Obama administration and now, the Biden administration has relied on DACA to ensure the group known as “Dreamers” — many of whom are now adults — can stay and work in the US.

The proposal seeks to satisfy concerns of a federal judge who ruled in July that the policy was illegal. It takes on heightened importance as prospects for legislation have dimmed. A Cornell University professor says there are no major changes and that it is an effort to “bulletproof” the policy from legal challenges.

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As of March 31, there were 616,030 DACA recipients, the majority of whom are from Mexico.

Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a proposed rule which will go through a public comment period but stressed that it is still not a final substitute for congressional action.

“The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal. However, only Congress can provide permanent protection. I support the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urge Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve.”

According to the proposed rule, to qualify for DACA, individuals must have arrived in the US before their 16th birthday, have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007, are currently in school or have graduated, have not been convicted of a felony, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety, among other criteria.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.) Team