What is DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals—referred to as Dreamers after the DREAM Act bill—were enrolled in the program created by DACA. The policy was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017.
DACA is a kind of administrative relief from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants: 1) protection from deportation, and 2) a work permit. The program expires after two years, subject to renewal.
What was President Trump’s most recent announcement about DACA?
On September 5th, 2017, President Trump ordered an end to the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling it an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections in six months.
Since the initial announcement, Mr. Trump has been seen as wavering somewhat as he and his team have put out conflicting messages on the issue.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, indicated that Mr. Trump would support legislation to “fix” the DACA program, as long as Congress passed it as part of a broader immigration overhaul to strengthen the border, protect American jobs and enhance enforcement.
What does this mean?
In short, this means that for the more than 800,000 DACA recipients, there is no guarantee of being able to stay in the United States. Until the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives vote on a bill addressing DACA, it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen to the DACA program.
It is important to note that this is a phaseout and DACA holders will not be deported right away. People who hold DACA permits can use them up until the day they expire. Additionally, employers are not allowed to ask employees whether he or she has DACA nor can the employer terminate or fire someone because he or she has DACA.
What can I do now?
Currently, no new initial DACA applications are being accepted.
For those in need of a DACA renewal (as in their DACA is expiring before March 6, 2018), all renewal applications are due to USCIS no later than October 5, 2017. Please note that the October 5th deadline means your renewal application must be submitted on file - not just postmarked - by October 5th. Contact an attorney immediately if you are in need of assistance.Unfortunately, people whose DACA grant had already expired before September 5th cannot renew.
Photo Credit: By Rhododendrites (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons