UNITED STATES – Trump Administration Dismantles DACA
On 5 September 2017, the US Attorney General announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by Executive Action in June 2012 will be terminated in six months.
DACA currently provides protection from deportation and employment authorization for approximately 800,000 individuals brought to the United States as children who otherwise lack legal status in the United States.
To qualify for DACA, an applicant must show, among other requirements, that he or she came to the US under the age of sixteen, fulfils certain educational requirements, and does not have a criminal record. Under the DACA program, eligible applicants receive a two-year permit, which may be renewed as long as they continue to meet the requirements for the program.
Immediately after this announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memorandum providing details on how the Administration will execute the wind down of the program.
Highlights from the DHS memorandum include the following:
DHS will generally continue to adjudicate properly-filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for an employment authorization document (EAD) that have been accepted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as of 5 September 2017. DHS will generally continue to adjudicate properly filed DACA renewal requests and associated applications for an EAD that will expire before 5 March 2018. Under the memorandum, any application for a DACA and EAD renewal by these particular beneficiaries must be accepted by USCIS on or before 5 October 2017. DHS will reject all new DACA requests and associated applications for EADs filed after 5 September 2017. DHS will not approve any new Form I-131 Application for Travel Document (advance parole) based on DACA. However, DHS will generally honour the validity period for previously-approved Forms I-131 Application for Travel Document. Individuals who have a valid advance parole travel document should consult with an immigration attorney before making travel plans. DHS will administratively close all pending Forms I-131 Application for Travel Document filed under DACA, and will refund all associated fees. Because DACA beneficiaries have been applying for DACA permits on different dates since its inception in June 2012, their two-year status has been expiring over rolling periods. The group eligible to renew their permits under the Attorney General’s announcement – those whose DACA expires on or before 5 March 2018 - may renew one more time to receive a two-year approval. Those whose status expires after 5 March 2018 will not be allowed to extend their status.
DACA recipients and their employers should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to understand the options available to them. DACA recipients whose EAD is expiring within the next six months (i.e. before the 5 March 2018 DACA expiration date) should apply for a renewal as soon as possible, and no later than 5 October 2017. Employers should review the expiration dates of employees on DACA and prepare for workforce replacement in the event Congress fails to enact legislation to protect DACA recipients.