As an immigration lawyer in Houston, we were concerned to hear that President Trump Ended DACA. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program of huge importance to many of our clients, who are now understandably troubled that President Trump has announced an end to the program and are wondering what Trump’s announcement means for their present and future.
When did DACA Start?
DACA was created through executive order by President Obama in June 2012. The program essentially allowed undocumented individuals who had entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. Approximately 800,000 individuals have received DACA status since the policy was implemented with the applicants passing background, fingerprint, and other checks that look at identifying biological features. DACA recipients do not have serious criminal records and must be either enrolled in or graduated from high school or university.
Why is DACA ending?
On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Sessions announced that the Trump Administration was going to phase out the DACA program effective immediately.
If I Qualify for DACA can I apply now?Unfortunately, undocumented persons who are eligible for DACA but have not yet applied for the program are no longer able to apply. All DACA applications after September 5th will be rejected by the government.
Is my Daca Work Permit still good? Can I apply for a travel document?
If you are currently on DACA, then you are still protected from deportation and eligible to work until the expiration of your current employment authorization document ("work permit"). However, if you have DACA and have applied for an advance parole travel document, USCIS has announced it will hold all pending applications and will not approve newly filed applications. As a result, if you have not already applied for an advance parole travel document, USCIS will not approve an application and as a result cannot travel out of the country.
What if my DACA is expiring soon?
All current DACA recipients whose status is still valid but is set to expire by March 5, 2018, now have until October 5, 2017 to apply for a renewal of their DACA status. This essentially means that current DACA holders have a month to apply for renewal of their status if their status expires by March 5 of next year.
Will DACA come back in the future?
Trump has signaled on Twitter that he expects Congress to deal with DACA and there are signs that Congress will perhaps take up the mantle to protect the Dreamers. Two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) announced a bipartisan Dream Act that will protect the individuals who have been left exposed by the rescission of DACA.
What can I do if I am a DACA holder?
The most important step that current DACA holders can take is to check when their current status is expiring and if the expiration is before March 5, 2018, to immediately reach out to an immigration attorney that can make sure that their renewal is timely filed. Further, all DACA holders should also find out about available options and whether there is any kind of relief available for them by setting up a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.