The future for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
The Supreme Court is expected to issue an opinion in Trump v. Regents of the University of California et al. (the DACA case) any day now. Since the Trump administration announced on September 5, 2017 that it was ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), more than 652,800 applicants have been in a state of constant stress and anxiety considering they may end up falling into a legal "limbo" with an uncertain future.
In 2012, under the Obama administration, the DACA program was announced in a memorandum from the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano. Commonly known as “Dreamers” the implementation of the program allowed certain immigrants that had been in the U.S. since they were children, to file Form I-821D - Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and pay a filing fee of $495 with USCIS to gain Deferred Action. After an extensive background screening, and if approved, the applicant could receive two years of employment authorization, advance parole travel benefits, and protection from deportation.
The Trump administration announced in 2017 the end of the DACA program through a memorandum issued by acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke. Among other reasons, the main reasons for rescinding DACA are:
It was illegal.
DHS had severe doubts that it was lawful.
DHS should not adopt a policy contrary to the acts of Congress.
The possible end of DACA has resulted in legal challenges and is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. Those applicants already enrolled still have protections and can continue to renew their two-year permits but USCIS is no longer accepting brand new or initial applications. An essential benefit of DACA was the access to “advance parole,” which allowed applicants to travel outside the United States for humanitarian, employment, or educational reasons, knowing they could safely return to the United States. The applicant had to specify exact exit and entry dates and needed extensive evidence in order to be approved.
DACA also allowed immigrant youth to work in occupations and industries better aligned with their area of study and interest. This also enabled applicants to become more active and contributing members of their communities. If the Supreme Court allows the full rescission of the DACA program, hundreds of thousands of young people will lose their jobs and would be at risk of deportation. Immigration authorities have said they would deport any DACA recipients who have an existing immigration court case, which could create a mass deportation effort to an already backlogged court system. That means thousands of previously protected immigrants, including many who work in the health care industry, could become unlawful and unable to work, potentially while Covid-19 continues to kill more Americans every day. Some households would also lose their primary financial providers causing a financial ripple affect that could touch millions of people.
During the next few weeks, the Supreme Court should issue an opinion about this case. If the Court concludes to determinate the continuity of DACA, the Trump administration will determine how to bring back. Under this scenario, we’ll have to wait to see what the administration does about:
Processing DACA renewal applications that are pending at the time the Court issues its decision;
Either allowing work permits to expire on their stated expiration dates or attempting to “recall” work permits and DACA protections that have not yet expired.
If the Court concludes that DACA itself is unlawful is possible that:
There will no longer be a possibility that new first-time DACA applications will be accepted;
The government will stop accepting DACA renewal applications;
Work permits issued to DACA recipients may remain valid until their expiration dates. However, whether they do will depend on the Court’s reasoning and how the administration reacts to the Court’s decision;
Will not approve any new Form I-131 applications for advance parole under standards associated with the DACA program.
It is important to note that the Supreme Court decision will affect the 652,800 current DACA recipients and the new generation of unlawful immigrants that were too young to apply for the program while it was still valid. This decision will transform the United States immigration picture for the next decade and potentially beyond that. If you are under the DACA Program or have any questions related to immigration, please contact us as we are happy to provide free initial consultations to those in need.
The Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles is an experienced Los Angeles based U.S. Immigration law firm that has been practicing immigration law since 2013. Our background makes us uniquely well suited to help you with any issue relating to your immigration status.
Law Office of Nicholas J. Mireles, APC
411 West 7th St. Ste 310 - Los Angeles, CA 90014