One can’t turn on the television or pick up a newspaper these days without hearing about the political fight over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in 2012.
What Is DACA?
DACA provides temporary protection from deportation for certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States when they were under the age of 16 years old. To be eligible to apply for DACA, undocumented immigrants must meet the following criteria as stated on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website:
- Came to the United States before 16th birthday.
- Must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
- Must be at least 15 years or older to request DACA, unless currently in removal proceedings or have a final removal or voluntary departure order.
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time.
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making DACA request.
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Once applicants pass a background check, they are allowed to get renewable two-year permits to study and work in the United States. Since the executive order went into effect, approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants have benefitted from DACA.
Why Is DACA in the News?
The DACA program’s legality has been challenged in court before; but DACA has been a political football since the 2016 presidential election when then-Republican-candidate Trump vowed to “immediately terminate” DACA if elected president. However, once elected, he seemed to soften his stance on the program, saying he wanted to “deal with DACA with heart.”
But on September 5th, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration was ending the DACA program, potentially stopping deportation protection for approximately 700,000 DACA beneficiaries.
Then, on January 9th, 2018, federal judge William Alsup ordered the U.S. government to resume DACA renewals and keep the program on the same terms and conditions in effect before the Trump administration ordered it faded out in September 2017.
On January 16th, 2018, the Trump administration announced it would appeal Judge Alsup’s order to the U.S. Supreme Court. Before that could happen, the government shut down for a few days, largely due to Democrats who withheld their votes on a funding bill because it excluded a deal for DREAMers, as DACA beneficiaries are often referred to.
The government is now back in action, but the future of DACA is still in limbo.
On February 13th, for the second time in two months, another judge waded into the fray. Brooklyn federal district court judge Nicholas G. Garaufis issued a nationwide injunction ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA in place as the issue continues through the court system.
What Is the Current Status of DACA?
DACA is in place at the moment, and applications for renewal are still being accepted. However, renewals are not available for undocumented immigrants who never had DACA protections or for those whose DACA protections were terminated.
If you wish to apply for DACA, it’s important that you do so through a seasoned immigration lawyer. Only attorneys who have permission from the U.S. Department of Justice can provide legal advice about applying for DACA. We also recommend applying immediately, as the political and immigration climate changes almost day by day.
The knowledgeable and experienced New York immigration attorneys at Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP, are up to date on the current state of U.S. immigration law and can answer any questions you may have. Call 212-203-4795 to schedule a consultation.