On September 4, 2017, the day before President Donald Trump announced his plans to end DACA, 689,800 people had DACA status.1 Contrary to popular belief, these recipients are not all from Mexico – although 78.5 percent are. They also hail from El Salvador (3.6 percent), Guatemala (2.5 percent), Honduras (2.3 percent), Peru (1.2 percent), Brazil (0.9 percent) and many other countries from all over the world.2
Since the announcement, DACA recipients’ futures have been up in the air. However, some recent legal decisions may grant them a few months of reprieve.
What Is DACA?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a program meant to prevent children who were brought to the United States illegally in their childhood from being deported to their birth country. If a person’s DACA application is accepted, they are allowed to stay in the US for two more years and are granted work authorization, which makes them legally employable. However, DACA does not make someone a US citizen, nor does it protect someone from being deported if they violate the terms of DACA. DACA status can be rescinded at the government’s discretion without forewarning.
In order to qualify for DACA, the applicant must meet the following criteria, and their claims must be substantiated by documentation:
- Age 15 and older, with some exceptions if they are in removal proceedings
- Younger than 31, as of June 15, 2012
- Brought to the United States before age 16
- Currently in school OR graduated from high school OR earned a GED OR were honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard
- Have lived in the U.S. continuously from June 15, 2007 until now
- Were physically in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of filing
- Did not have lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012
- Do not have a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors
- Are not otherwise a threat to others or the U.S. government3
Who Created DACA?
DACA was created on June 15, 2012 via an executive order issued by former President Barack Obama. The program is somewhat of a compromise; Obama had pushed for legislation outlining a path to citizenship for DREAMers. When met with resistance from Congress, he enacted DACA through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It should be noted that some citizens feel this executive order was an abuse of executive branch power, or even unconstitutional.
A Brief Timeline of DACA Events
June 16, 2015 – Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump promises to rescind DACA upon being elected. In a 2015 rally, he says, “I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration. Immediately.”4
June 29, 2017 – Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, nine other Republican state attorneys general and the governor of Idaho put pressure on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to phase out DACA. They write a letter and file a lawsuit, but promise to dismiss the lawsuit if President Trump stops renewing and accepting DACA applications on September 5, 2017.
September 5, 2017 – The Trump administration announces their intent to end DACA. President Trump sets a March 5 deadline for Congress to take action. The U.S. government stops accepting new DACA applications but allows renewals for another month.
October 5, 2017 – This was the original deadline for DACA renewals for people whose DACA status would expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. The lack of adequate notice and the $495 application fee leaves many DACA recipients scrambling to file on time. There is huge outcry from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
March 5, 2018 – This was the original deadline Trump gave Congress to make a decision on DACA. However, recent legal proceedings have thrown a wrench into that plan, potentially extending the DACA renewal period for quite some time.
Recent DACA Updates
Congress has been struggling to reach a bipartisan decision on DACA since the original announcement that the program would be rescinded. In the meantime, several judges have come out against President Trump’s plan to end DACA. The first was U.S. District Judge William Alsup, a federal judge in San Francisco, California. On January 9, 2018, he sided with the University of California, which is run by former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, in a lawsuit against the DHS. He also said the Trump administration had to accept DACA renewals, but not new applications. A similar ruling was made by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, a federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, on February 13, 2018. He sided with 16 Democrat state attorneys general against members of the U.S. government.
Frustrated with the decision in the district courts, the Trump administration appealed the ruling. However, instead of going through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California – which would have been the next step in the traditional legal route – they directly petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case. The Supreme Court refused on February 26, 2018.
What Does This Mean?
Essentially, the Trump administration is now in a bind. The legal process can be slow, so it could take many months or even a year before the Supreme Court ever hears the DACA case. The ambitious March 5 deadline is no longer feasible. In the meantime, former DACA recipients can file renewals.
Can I Still Apply for DACA?
Since President Trump originally announced his plan to reverse DACA, the rules for renewal and application have changed. According to an announcement on February 14, 2018 from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, people who were previously granted DACA status can reapply or renew their application. Unfortunately, a person who has not received DACA status in the past cannot be approved.
The rules for application depend on when you most recently held DACA status:
- Before September 5, 2016 – Since you did not file a renewal within a year of DACA status expiration, you should fill out a new application. Be sure to include all the information about your previous DACA status.
- September 5, 2016 and after – The expiration of your status is recent enough that you can ask for a renewal, rather than a new application.
Important note: If your DACA status was ever terminated, you will have to submit a new DACA request, not a renewal.5
Receive DACA Legal Help With Burgos & Associates in Louisiana
At Burgos & Associates, our attorneys understand your frustration and confusion concerning U.S. immigration law. New rulings are made every day, and as policies change, we want to make sure you understand how to obtain lawful status in this country or how to defend yourself against deportation.
Our immigration lawyers have experience in:
- Deferred action (DACA)
- Deportation defense
- Humanitarian relief
- Business and investment immigration
- And much more
If you are a DACA recipient who needs legal help, call us at (504) 488-3722 or fill out our online form to receive a consultation.