In light of the announced cancellation of the DACA program, if you have DACA or you were DACA eligible, it is advised that you speak with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Cancellation of DACA
On September 5, 2017 the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the cancellation of the DACA program effective March 5, 2018. [See the DHS memoranda here]. The announcement notes that the DACA program will be phased out over the next two years.
Beginning on September 5, no new DACA applications will be processed. The administration will continue to process DACA applications which were received prior September 5 and those with DACA will keep the benefit until their DACA expires. Renewals of DACAs that expire before March 5, 2018 will be considered as filed if received by USCIS by October 5, 2017.
Additionally, the ability of DACA recipients to leave the country and return will be ended. New and pending applications for advance parole will be denied but approved grants of advanced parole will remain valid. Advanced Parole is a document issued by the USCIS that allows those without a valid immigrant visa to return to the United States after traveling abroad. It is strongly advised that those without an approved advanced parole document remain in the United States. Those with an approved advanced parole are advised to speak with an attorney regarding the risks of international travel.
How to Renew
If your DACA will expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, apply for renewal before October 5th 2017. There are resources to help you with the application and the filing fee. Many areas are offering free DACA renewal workshops to help with the process. The renewal filing fee is $495 dollars and there are organizations that want to help.
If you have DACA
Look at other options for legal status- With the termination of the DACA program and the likelihood of any legislative solution unclear, it is strongly advised that you speak with an immigration attorney regarding other possible legal remedies. An attorney who is knowledgeable in the field of immigration may discover an avenue for you to apply for legal permanent residency or another visa. For example, if since you filed your initial DACA application you have married a U.S. citizen, a parent has become a U.S. citizen, you have witnessed a crime or fear returning to your home country you may have a path to legal residency.
Will you be more vulnerable? -The DHS has stated that your DACA information will not be used for immigration enforcement unless you meet what are described as “Notice to Appear” criteria or you pose a threat to national security or public safety. “Notice to Appear” guidelines set out criteria for priority of removal, they include arrests or convictions for violent and other serious crimes, known or suspected gang membership, firearm trafficking and immigration fraud. If you meet any deportation priority criteria, it is important that you meet with an immigration attorney to discuss your case. It is difficult to predict what the DHS will do with DACA information, however there are strong legal arguments against them using DACA information for non DACA purposes.
Continue to use your social security number – Your social security number is yours for life. Once your work authorization expires, you will not be able to use it for employment purposes but you can still use it for purposes such as education, banking and housing.
Do not leave country- Unless you have an already approved advanced parole, you should not leave the country. New petitions for advanced parole will be denied.
Several lawsuits have already been filed that challenge the decision to terminate the DACA program. A major piece of the legislation is based on procedural grounds. One challenge is based on the fact that since DACA was an approved regulation, that the administration should have followed the correct procedure for ending a regulation. Another challenge is that the dates and deadlines chosen are arbitrary. Other issues covered are whether the repeal is based on discrimination and if it violates due process since it suddenly changes the rules. Lawsuits have been filed by states, the University of California, the NAACP and individuals. The cases are likely to move through the courts quickly given the time sensitive nature of the issue.
Actions By Congress
President Trump has stated that the six-month delay between the announcement of the termination of the program and the termination of the program is in the interest of giving congress time to pass a bill that would replace it. The administration’s announcement has spurred congressional interest in potential legislation. Providing a permanent solution for the DACA eligible population has some bipartisan support in congress as well as broad support among the electorate in public opinion polls. One obstacle is the gap between Republican and Democrat immigration reform goals. Pending bills include: The Dream Act, Recognizing America’s Children Act, The American Hope Act, The BRIDGE Act and The SUCCEED Act .
[A copy of the Secretary’s directive can be found on the Executive Order and Memoranda link on this site.]