On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that it is ending the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program was put into place by President Obama and there are approximately 800,000 dreamers expected to be affected by today’s announcement. The announcement was made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Trump Administration has provided a 6 month delay to slowly phase out the program, with no current beneficiaries to be affected before March 5 of next year. President Trump has called upon Congress to act before March 5 to find a permanent legislative solution.
House Speaker Paul Ryan responded to the announcement, stating “It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”
Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke sated that “No new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.” However, those enrolled in DACA already will be able to continue working until their work permits expires. For those who have permits expiring prior to March 5, 2018, DHS will accept renewal applications as long as they are filed before October 5, 2017. Officials indicated that new applications and renewal requests received before the announcement was made will be reviewed and validated on a case-by-case basis. The full text of Secretary Elaine Duke’s memorandum is available here. USCIS’ announcement is available here.
DACA allowed individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children or teens prior to 2007 to apply for protection from deportation (deferred action) and work authorization, as long as they met certain criteria. To be eligible under DACA, applicants had to be under the age of 16 when they entered the U.S., have lived continuously in the U.S. since mid-2007, be enrolled in high school or college or already have a diploma, GED, or degree or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. military, and have no felony criminal convictions, significant misdemeanor convictions, or otherwise pose a threat to national security. DACA did not provide lawful immigration status or a pathway to lawful immigration status, but instead granted a deferral from possible removal so that dreamers no longer needed to fear deportation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated following the announcement that DACA has ended that its enforcement priorities have not changed and ICE has no plans to target DACA holders as their permits expire. While they will be eligible for deportation after March 5, 2018, they will be a low priority.
The Trump Administration has represented that it’s decision to end DACA with a six month delay is the humane way to unwind the program, providing lawmakers an opportunity to reach a legislative solution to permanently address the immigration status of dreamers. DHS has no current plans to share personal information of any dreamers, including home addresses, unless there is an immediate national security concern.
President Trump, in his official statement, reiterated that, “We are focused on criminals, security threats, recent border-crossers, visa overstays, and repeat violators. I have advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang.”
Despite ending the DACA program, President Trump maintains that he plans to resolve the DACA issue “with heart and compassion – but through the lawful Democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.”