DACA Update

In 2017, when the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, it set an arbitrary deadline of March 5, 2018 for Congress to deliver a solution to replace DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants from deportation. That deadline has arrived and passed, much to the dismay of President Trump, who seems to be at a loss of what to do since Congress failed to act within the designated timeline. All four of the immigration bills the Senate took up to address were voted down. So, where does DACA stand now? It’s quite complicated, so here’s what you need to know.

On September 5 of 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration was rescinding the Obama era executive order enacting the DACA program. He explained that DACA would end gradually by only allowing people with the DACA authorizations that expired before March 5, 2018 to renew their statues. The March 5 deadline served as a call to Congress to pass legislation that would ensure DACA protections into law, thus allowing young, undocumented immigrants to live in the US without the fear of being deported.

You might find yourself wondering: So, is DACA over now? Not quite. At this point, the March 5 deadline is basically irrelevant as two federal judges have ordered the Trump administration to keep the program in place. One federal judge from California ordered the Trump administration to “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis,” challenging the President’s policy on DACA. A second federal judge from New York explained that Trump had not “offered legally adequate reasons” for ending DACA, and ordered the administration to continue accepting DACA renewal applications.

This is not necessarily to say that the deadline has had no impact; United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue to accept DACA renewal applications, but due to the fears and stigmas surrounding the topic, few immigration centers are actually doing so. This means that DACA recipients could be in serious trouble once their authorizations expire, because once this happens, they will lose their work permit, as well as protections from deportation. DACA authorizations expire around two years from the date that they were issued or renewed. Immigrant rights advocates cite a Migration Policy Institute study that found an average of 915 unauthorized immigrants will lose their DACA statues each day beginning on March 6, 2018.

ICE officials have said that they do not intend to proactively target young immigrants; though if immigration agents are conducting enforcement raids and come across something with expired protections, they are legally obliged to turn the individual in.

Currently, the DACA situation is in chaos. After the failing of several bills brought up in the Senate as an alternative, the federal government is busy trying to find an alternative. Until then, the situation for Dreamers is looking precarious at best.


– Maggie Di Sanza

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