DACA Program to End: Here’s What You Should Know

By Jennifer Cory

On Sept. 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced rescission of the Obama administration’s 2012 Executive Order which created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As of March 5, 2018, DACA will terminate. DACA has benefited approximately 800,000 recipients who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and hold no valid immigration status by granting them temporary work authorization and relief from deportation.

Following the announcement, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) halted acceptance of new DACA applications.  Current DACA recipients with permits that expire before March 5, 2018 may apply for renewal by Oct. 5, 2017.  As a result, some DACA recipients could lose work authorization as early as March 6, 2018, while others will be able to continue to use the program over the next two years. In addition, USCIS is no longer approving Advance Parole authorizing travel for DACA recipients.  Whether those with existing Advance Parole will be permitted to return to the U.S. once DACA ends is uncertain. Having Advance Parole does not guarantee admission to the U.S., and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may revoke or terminate it at any time.

The Trump administration has indicated that no specific guidance will be issued to DHS agents to shield young undocumented immigrants from deportation.  At this point, what remains unclear is whether and how quickly Immigration & Customs Enforcement will take enforcement action to remove DACA recipients.  DACA recipients may want to consult with licensed immigration counsel to understand their legal rights if detained and placed in removal proceedings.

DACA recipients with work permits expiring before March 5, 2018 have until Oct. 5, 2017 to submit two-year renewal applications.  DACA recipients holding valid Advance Parole may want to reevaluate any non-essential international travel.

Whether Congress will be able to pass a legislative solution within the next six months is unknown.  Much will depend on DACA proponents’ ability to mobilize and advocate some form of relief.  Advocacy resources are available at https://americanimmigrationcouncil.org/topics/daca-dapa.