Last year in September, the Trump Administration decided to end DACA giving Congress up to March 5th, 2018 to come up with an alternate solution. An expiration date of March 5 was set for the DACA program. This has since passed with a lot of uncertainty as the program is tied up in court proceedings, which is expected to continue deep into the midterm elections. This had led to many DACA enrollees unclear about their future in a country where they grew up in, school in and work in.
What Is DACA?
The DACA program was started by President Obama in 2012 with an executive order on June 15, 2012, called “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children”.
This program gave certain undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and enabled them to obtain work permits renewable every 2 years based on good behavior. To be eligible to apply, the immigrant had to be younger than 31 as of when the policy was announced (June 15, 2012), and should have entered the U.S. when they were below the age of 16. Lastly, the applicant must have lived in the United States since 2007.
According to Pew Research Center, as much as 1.7 million persons were eligible as of August 2012, when the USCIS started accepting applications.
Obama attempted to expand the DACA program to include more persons, however, Texas and 25 other states sued the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas asking that the implementation of both the DACA expansion and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) be enjoined. After going through the court system, the Supreme Court reached an impasse (4–4). As such, the injunction blocking the expansion issued by Judge Andrew S. Hanen in February 2015 was left intact.
Individuals protected under the DACA program are collectively referred to as ‘DREAMers’ in reference to the DREAM Act which was supposed to allow immigrants brought into the U.S. at young ages to attend university and subsequently become U.S. citizens, however, this bill has not been able to prevail over filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
Trump Administration Seeks To End DACA
On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration ordered the end of DACA, in an attempt to scrap the Obama-era program. According to the memo released Rescission of the June 15, 2012 Memorandum Entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children”, all those covered under the DACA program were supposed to lose their protected status and face deportation starting 6 months after the declaration, which fell on March 5, 2018. The president then challenged Congress to find a more lasting solution to the problem within the 6 months. However, as March 6 approached there was little apparent urgency on the side of Congress to act before hundreds of thousands lose the protection offered by DACA. In all, around 800,000 persons have received approved DACA protection since the program commenced in 2012. By September 5, when president Trump announced that his Administration plans to end DACA, about 689,800 persons were protected by DACA, receiving both protection and work permits, according to data provided by USCIS.
Also, the government stopped taking new applications under the DACA program.
The U.S. Courts Stance on DACA
On January 9, 2018, a federal judge temporarily stopped the current Administration from ending the DACA program, ruling that the Trump Administration did not justify scrapping the DACA program with the plaintiffs being the states of Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, and California, and the University of California. A United States District Judge William Alsup instructed the current Administration to allow DREAMers renew work permits and deportation protections under the DACA program. Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, a New York District Court judge, also issued a ruling that was similar to that of Judge Alsup’s. These rulings are but a small victory for the DACA program as both the Congress and the White House are yet to find a compromise to the DACA program.
On February 26, 2018, Supreme Court declined the Administration request to hear the appeal of the ruling by Alsup since the appeals court was skipped. Most legal experts do not expect the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reach a decision until June 2018 at the earliest. The ruling by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis will also have go through the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. After the decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York., it is most likely that the case will then move onto the U.S. Supreme Court. This will likely mean that DACA will at least be around through fall giving DACA enrollees a reprieve.
Read Relevant News: Donald Trump DACA-What Is DACA, The Program Trump Seeks To End?
- Department of Homeland Security. (2018). Memorandum on Rescission Of DACA. [online] Available at: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2017/09/05/memorandum-rescission-daca#_ftnref5 [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- NPR.org. (2018). Democrats Look To Trump On DREAM Act After He Puts Expiration Date On DACA Program. [online] Available at: https://www.npr.org/2017/09/10/549745978/democrats-look-to-trump-on-dream-act-after-he-puts-expiration-date-on-daca-progr [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- Reuters. (2018). Obama's immigration action blocked again; Supreme Court only option.... [online] Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-court/obamas-immigration-action-blocked-again-supreme-court-only-option-left-idUSKCN0SZ04W20151110 [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- Uscis.gov. (2018). Approximate Active DACA Recipients: Country of Birth As of January 31, 2018. [online] Available at: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/Immigration%20Forms%20Data/All%20Form%20Types/DACA/DACA_Population_Data_Jan_31_2018.pdf [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- Fox News. (2018). Judge rules against Trump administration on rescinding DACA. [online] Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/10/judge-rules-against-trump-administration-on-rescinding-daca.html [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- Cand.uscourts.gov. (2018). UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. [online] Available at: https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/filelibrary/3302/UC-v-DHS_C17-5211-WHA_Order_1-9-18.pdf [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- The Washington Times (2018). Court orders full restoration of DACA program. Available at: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/feb/13/court-orders-full-restoration-daca-program/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- USA TODAY. (2018). What the Supreme Court ruling means for DACA and almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants. [online] Available at: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/26/what-supreme-court-ruling-means-daca-and-almost-700-000-undocumented-immigrants/372704002/ [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- CNBC. (2018). DACA deportation deadline arrives, but with an easing sense of urgency. [online] Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/05/daca-deportation-deadline-arrives-but-with-an-easing-sense-of-urgency.html [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- U.S. Supreme Court. (2018). UNITED STATES, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. TEXAS, ET AL.. [online] Available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-674_jhlo.pdf [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].
- White House. (2018). Live Updates: President Obama on the Supreme Court Ruling on Immigration Reform. [online] Available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/06/23/president-obama-supreme-court-ruling-immigration-reform [Accessed 6 Mar. 2018].