Battle Lines Drawn Over DACA

Earlier this summer several officials wrote President Trump a letter extolling DACA’s virtues and supporting its constitutionality. Nevertheless the administration announced that it would not accept any new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program applications and would not renew any two-year permits expiring after March 2018. Now, numerous state officials are poised to sue President Donald Trump over his closure of the DACA program.

Currently under DACA, about 700,000 children of undocumented immigrants are immune from deportation.


Some DACA Basics

In June 2012, former President Barack Obama created DACA via executive order. Currently undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors are sometimes called “Dreamers,” a term that comes from the now-abandoned DREAM Act.

In November 2014, President Obama announced his intention to expand DACA to cover additional illegal immigrants. Although multiple states immediately sued to prevent the expansion, their attempt was ultimately blocked by the courts. The United States Department of Homeland Security rescinded the expansion on June 16, 2017, while continuing to review the existence of the DACA program as a whole.

To be eligible for the program, the applicants must have been younger than 16 when they arrived in the country, be younger than 30 at the time of their application, and have lived here since at least June 2007. Nearly all DACA applicants come from Mexico and Central America.

Dreamers are not eligible for status change, but they can obtain drivers’ licenses, legally work in this country, and enroll in university. The Department of Homeland Security cannot pursue deportation actions against Dreamers as long as they are in the program, and they must renew membership every two years.

Even though the program is ending, it is not dead yet.

  • DACA-issued work permits will remain valid until they expire,
  • New applications received before the announcement will be processed, and
  • Renewal applications will be processed until February 5, 2018.

As long as Dreamers are in the program, they cannot be deported.


What Happens Next?

Over the last several years, many proposals have come and gone in Congress to make DACA permanent and maybe even expand it into a path for citizenship. But like the aforementioned DREAM Act, these bills have all faltered. So, even though President Trump urged Congress to act and reinstate the program, these prospects appear dim.

DHS says that all the Dreamers’ personal information will remain in the system, but it will not be turned over to Citizenship and Immigration Services unless the person poses a threat to national security or public safety (e.g. gang membership), a designation that applies to an estimated .2 percent of Dreamers.

At Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, we strive to provide individuals and families the information and legal representation they need. If you have any questions about your legal rights, contact us today to speak with an attorney at no charge.