On June 15, 2012, President Obama issued an executive order that enabled certain youth and young adults under the age of 31 who were brought to the United States under the age of 16 without inspection, or whose permitted period of stay had elapsed, to legally live and work here without fear of deportation. The order did not help everyone who came here as a minor, and did not provide a path to citizenship, but for those who qualified, it enabled them to get a driver’s license, obtain a social security number, and depending on where the person lived, to pursue a college education at in-state resident tuition rates. In short, the Order made it possible for the 800,000 persons granted deferred action to pursue their dreams of a future in the United States (hence the term “dreamers.”) The rationale behind the Order was both moral and practical: the children were not responsible for their violation of law; this was in many cases the only home they had ever known; the vast majority are law-abiding; and they have much to contribute to our country. In the five years that have passed since being granted deferred action, the dreamers have proven the last point, as the income generated from their application fees and taxes has totaled billions of dollars. https://itep.org/state-local-tax-contributions-of-young-undocumented-immigrants/. Many have married U.S. citizens and had children here as well.
Today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it is winding down the DACA initiative and leaving the fate of the dreamers to Congress, which has up until now not been willing to do anything about the issue. It is an unsatisfactory political strategy that makes no guarantees for the dreamers. Therefore, it is more important now than ever to contact your Congressional representatives to express your support for Dreamer legislation that will allow them to remain with their families and to even become the good citizens we know they could be. Until then, here is the reality that dreamers must face:
- No new initial applications for DACA will be accepted, although if an application has already been submitted, it will be processed.
- Those who already have DACA can continue to work and have deportation deferred until their status expires, assuming their benefits are not revoked sooner for cause, e.g. a disqualifying arrest.
- Those who have DACA that will expire prior to March 5, 2018 MUST file to renew by October 5, 2017.
- USCIS will not go out of its way to refer people who have received DACA to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless they are deemed to pose a threat to national security or public safety, or it would normally do so under other criteria found in www.uscis.gov/NTA.
- Advance parole, which allowed DACA recipients to travel and lawfully return to the United States, is no longer an option. USCIS will refund the filing fees for anyone with DACA who has an application for advance parole pending at this time.
If you have any other questions about DACA termination, please do not hesitate to contact us.