This month President Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as of September 5, 2017. Certain applications will be considered until March 5, 2018, and the last date to file for renewal will be October 5, 2017. There will likely be a six-month delay on enforcement by allowing those who’s DACA permits expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 to renew.
The Obama administration established DACA in 2012. DACA granted “deferred action” to undocumented (a.k.a. illegal) immigrants that fit strict criteria, also known as Dreamers. In effect, this protected those who were granted DACA from being deported during the approved timeframe. Although DACA granted authorization to work, it did not grant “status” such as a green card or citizenship, much less a path to either one.
Because DACA was designed to protect children who were brought to the U.S. by adults making decisions for them, the main requirement was that the applicant must have come to the U.S. before he/she was 16. The child had to have been under 31 as of June 15, 2012, continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 to present time, physically present in U.S. on June 15, 2015 in unlawful status, and be in school, graduated from high school (or GED), or honorably discharged veteran, and have not been convicted of certain crimes or be a threat to the U.S.
President Trump stated that he expects Congress to enact legislation to provide protection for DACA recipients during the 6-month phase out. However, this is not definite and we advise all recipients to do the following:
- Get legal assistance. If you cannot afford a private attorney you can contact www.nwirp.org/daca for Washington or the University of Idaho Immigration Clinic in Idaho https://www.uidaho.edu/law/academics/practical-skills/clinics/immigration
- Do not advertise that you are a DACA recipient
- If you qualify for DACA but have not applied as of September 5, 2017, we do not advise filing now as no new applications will be accepted
As there are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, it is imperative to understand what will and could happen to them. Current recipients will retain their deferred action and employment authorizations until expired or revoked, which is two years from issuance. The government will adjudicate DACA and related employment authorization renewals for those with expiring DACAs between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. But, they must be filed by October 5, 2017.
There is no law in place now to protect DACA recipients after their DACA expires. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s FAQ page indicates in the answer to Question 6 that current law does not grant legal status to DACA recipients and they are currently unlawfully present in the U.S. But, in the answer to question 14, it states when the DACA expires “the individual is no longer considered lawfully present in the United States.” This inconsistency could be just a mistake or it could mean that the government considers even recipients in valid DACA status to be here unlawfully.
The implication of this is that even being in valid DACA status may not protect you from deportation or stop the accrual of unlawful presence, which can affect future applications. Still, it’s unlikely that the Trump administration would suddenly place all or most DACA recipients into deportation proceedings when the program or status ends. The biggest risk is for those recipients who had a previous deportation order or who have been or will be arrested by the police, even for minor offense. This can cause a revocation of DACA status and subject the person to deportation. We highly recommend that DACA recipients not answer any questions and seek legal advice if they are detained by immigration authorities. You can simply and politely state, “I do not want to answer your questions and I would like to call a lawyer.”
If you are in Washington State or north Idaho, please consider attending one of the free community forums listed in this link: https://www.nwirp.org/options-after-daca-community-forums/
There is a growing bipartisan support in the House and Senate for passing a law that grants Dreamers permanent resident status (green cards). There is growing public support for this as well. We will keep you posted as there are new developments.