Who's been protected by DACA? Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) through the issuance of a memorandum on June 15, 2012 entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.” The DACA program was by far President Barack Obama's signature immigration policy and benefitted approximately 800,000 young immigrants. It allowed the federal government to use prosecutorial discretion to defer the deportation proceedings of undocumented immigrants who are under the age of 30, entered the United States before the age of 16 and have lived here since June 15, 2007.
What does DACA do for them? Under DACA, these young immigrants, also known as DREAMers, are able to come out of the shadows and obtain temporary immigration status to reside in the United States legally for two years and thereafter they could apply for renewal. While under their temporary DACA status, DREAMers have the opportunity to obtain valid driver's licenses, enroll in college and obtain employment authorization to legally secure jobs.
Wait, why are they called 'Dreamers'? DACA was created by the Obama administration after Congress failed to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. DREAM Act would have offered those who came to the U.S. illegally as children the opportunity to potentially gain permanent legal residency. DREAMers was the name given to this particular category of immigrants who were intended to be the beneficieries of the DREAM Act but ultimately were limited to the opportunities provided by the DACA program.
So, What's the administration planning to do? On September 5, 2017, the United States Attorney General, Jess Sessions issued a new memorandum, which rescinded the June 15, 2012 memorandum that established the DACA program. The new Trump administration plans to phase out the DACA program by not accepting new DACA applications filed after September 5, 2017 nor accepting renewal applications filed after October 5, 2017. However, current work permit issued under DACA will be honored until they expire and the administration will allow DACA recipients with a work permit set to expire before March 5, 2018, the opportunity to apply for a two-year renewal.
Pursuant to the September 5th memorandum, DHS will now provide a limited window in which it will adjudicate certain requests for DACA and associated applications meeting certain parameters specified below. Accordingly, DHS:
Will adjudicate—on an individual, case-by-case basis—properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents that have been accepted by the Department as of September 5, 2017
Will reject all DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after September 5, 2017
Will adjudicate—on an individual, case by case basis—properly filed pending DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents from current beneficiaries that have been accepted by the Department as of September 5, 2017, and from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between the September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 that have been accepted by the Department as of October 5, 2017.
Will reject all DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed outside of the parameters specified above.
Will not terminate the grants of previously issued deferred action or revoke Employment Authorization Documents solely based on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
Will not approve any new Form I-131 applications for advance parole under standards associated with the DACA program, although it will generally honor the stated validity period for previously approved applications for advance parole. Notwithstanding the continued validity of advance parole approvals previously granted, CBP will—of course—retain the authority it has always had and exercised in determining the admissibility of any person presenting at the border and the eligibility of such persons for parole. Further, USCIS will—of course—retain the authority to revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time.
Will administratively close all pending Form I-131 applications for advance parole filed under standards associated with the DACA program, and will refund all associated fees.
Will continue to exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time when immigration officials determine termination or denial of deferred action is appropriate.
Is there any hope now for Dreamers? Hopefully Congress will propose and pass legislation that could protect Dreamers from deportation now that the Trump administration is ending DACA. We will keep you updated as this hot topic progresses!