As the country continues to adjust to the new reality and to prepare for the Trump Presidency, one pressing immigration-related question looms large: “What will happen to DACA?” DACA, an acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that provides temporary protection from deportation for undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. when they were under 16 years old, have lived in the U.S. since June 2007, have met requirements relating to education or military service and are not a danger to the community. Since it was announced by President Obama in June 2012, well more than 600,000 undocumented persons have been granted DACA benefits, including the opportunity to continue their education and to work legally in the U.S.
The problem is that DACA is not a law. It was not passed by Congress. It was implemented pursuant to Executive Action. This means that it was promulgated by the President through his executive authority. This also means that, as it was created by executive authority, it can be ended by executive authority, with the stroke of a pen.
The continuation or termination of DACA will be the prerogative of the new President. Many advisors and supporters will be pressing for the end of DACA. Others, on both sides of the political aisle, will be advocating for a continuation of DACA or for some alternate version of DACA. Others still hold out hope for the enactment of legislative such as the DREAM Act which would regularize the status of undocumented people brought to the U.S. as young people, who were not responsible for the decision to enter the U.S. without papers.
Looking ahead, some immigration advocacy groups such as the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (“NWIRP”) are encouraging undocumented immigrants who have previously been approved for DACA to renew their employment authorization. At the same time, NWIRP is telling its DACA clients to refrain from travel outside the U.S. due to fears that they may not be readmitted with advance parole. For more information about NWIRP’s DACA report click here. For more information about DACA, click here. For more information from MALDEF, a respected voice for immigrants, on what undocumented immigrants might expect from the Trump Administration click here.