The Trump Administration announced on September 5, 2017 that it is ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), a program implemented in 2012 that provided some undocumented immigrants brought or sent to the U.S. as children a form of protection from deportation. Instead of an abrupt and total shutdown, the Administration has announced that it would “wind the program down in an orderly fashion that protects beneficiaries in the near-term while working with Congress to pass legislation.” With its announcement, the Administration has in effect shifted responsibility for the issue to Congress, imposing on them a six-month deadline to enact legislation or face the end of DACA’s protection.
Under the plan, the Administration will stop accepting new applications for legal status immediately. Those DACA beneficiaries with expiration dates before March 5, 2018 are being given 30 days to file for a single two-year extension of DACA protection plus work authorization. After the 30-day window closes, the government will no longer accept applications to renew DACA protection from any of the 800,000 individuals now protected by the program.
The President has approached DACA with circumspection, seeking to end what he and his supporters consider an overreach of executive authority while continuing to express understanding for “Dreamers” – undocumented persons who came to the U.S. before their 16th. birthday, who present no risk to public safety or national security, who have graduated from high school or earned a GED and have lived in the U.S. for five years or longer.
In many cases, these individuals came to the U.S. as infants or school-aged children and have no memory of their home county. Stories abound of Dreamers who have overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve academic and professional success. These Dreamers have the support of politicians and community leaders all over the U.S., on all sides of the political spectrum. With the end of DACA, these individuals – who attend U.S. schools, work for U.S. employers, live in U.S. communities, have U.S. citizen family members and have never willfully violated the law – are left to wonder – what’s next? Will they face deportation to countries that are just distant memories or will Congress finally enact some version of the DREAM Act, which offers the most innocent undocumented a chance at the American dream?
For additional information about the Administration’s DACA announcement, click here. For information on how organizations are pushing back to save DACA, click here. To speak to someone about DACA eligibility or what you can do to help, contact us.