On Tuesday, September 5 the Attorney General announced that the DACA program would come to an end on March 5, 2018. According to later reports this would mean that those currently with DACA and whose status is set to expire before March 5 are getting a reprieve of sorts, that is, if they file their renewal requests before October 5. These people, estimated at approximately 200,000 will be eligible for a two year extension on their DACA along with their employment authorization of equal duration. The Mexican government announced that it would cover the costs for renewing the applications ($495) for their nationals who could not afford these steep filing fees.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed challenging the revocation or rescission of the DACA program but none offer consolation for the tremendous set back represented by this most recent action by the Trump Administration. One of the concerns addressed by a law suit filed today by the California Attorney General is that the information in the DACA applicants could be used to track down the beneficiaries and their family members. The lawsuit, at least in part, hopes to end that possibility using an estoppel and due process legal theory.
While the challenge has always been with the Congress for they are the place where legislation originates and only they can present the legislation to a President for signature. It is not clear how Congress will deal with this challenge, but there are several obvious alternatives. First, they could legislatively enact a program which mirrors the DACA program which the President just extinguished. Second they could do what the Congress was set to do a number of years ago, which was to create a pathway to lawful permanent resident status for those who would otherwise have qualified for DACA.
At this time while it seems unlikely that Congress will respond by providing a legislative fix, the political climate is as favorable as it has been for some time. Recent polling indicates that up to 65% of Americans would like to see Congress enact a reprieve for DACA recipients. Legislation has been introduced in both Houses of Congress but nothing seems to be moving. Perhaps advocates can appeal to the baser instincts of the Congress and remind them that the last DACA program generated more than a $1 billion for the US Treasury. The revenue windfall from anything that Congress creates.
It seems that a worthwhile strategy for advocates would be to marshall support from religious leaders who may be one of the few remaining constituencies which have influence in both the Executive and Legislative branches.