This morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration is ending DACA, a program that began under former President Barack Obama, which allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, the opportunity to obtain employment authorization and be shielded from deportation. This decision comes on the heels of swirling rumors regarding the President’s intent to terminate the program. Despite the President’s seemingly sympathetic attitude toward the plight of “Dreamers,” today’s announcement means that the DACA program will be phased out.
Effective immediately, USCIS will not accept new initial requests for DACA, but will allow current DACA recipients with permits expiring between now and March 5, 2018 to apply for a final 2-year renewal of their status and obtain employment authorization.
A conflicted President Donald Trump issued a statement following the announcement in which he defended his decision stating, “in the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption. While new applications for work permits will not be accepted, all existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration up to two full years from today. Furthermore, applications already in the pipeline will be processed, as will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration. This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”
So, What Happens Next?
Current DACA holders:
Individuals currently receiving DACA, whose DACA status expires between now and March 5, 2018, will be allowed to renew their DACA status for one final time, granting these individuals “deferred” status for an additional 2-year period. These applications must be properly filed and accepted by October 5, 2017.
Beginning with today’s announcement, USCIS will no longer accept initial requests for DACA as well as all associated applications for Employment Authorization sought on that basis.
Pending DACA requests:
Initial DACA requests and all associated applications for employment authorization that were properly filed and remain pending with USCIS, will be adjudicated on an individual case-by-case basis. This means that the decision to approve or deny these requests will ultimately be made by the immigration officer reviewing the petition.
Likewise, DACA renewal applications and all associated applications for employment authorization that were properly filed and remain pending with USCIS, will also be adjudicated on a discretionary basis.
Validity of Current Employment Authorization Documents:
Employment authorization documents and grants of deferred action that were issued prior to the announcement will remain valid.
Per USCIS, the Department “Will not terminate the grants of previously issued deferred action or revoke Employment Authorization Documents solely based on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.”
New Applications for I-131:
The agency will no longer approve new applications filed on Form I-131 for advance parole, but will honor the validity period for previously approved applications for advance parole. CBP has the discretionary authority to deny admission to a DACA holder possessing an approved advance parole document.
Pending I-131 Applications:
All pending I-131 requests for advance parole on the basis of DACA, will be administratively closed, and all associated fees will be refunded to the applicant.
The Department of Justice and by extension USCIS, will “. . . exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time,” where such a decision is deemed appropriate by the immigration official.
REMINDER FOR CURRENT DACA HOLDERS
If you are a current DACA holder and your DACA benefits will expire between now and March 5, 2018 you must apply to obtain your final 2-year renewal by October 5, 2017.
To read the DHS memorandum outlining the policies of the administration as it relates to DACA please click here.
To read the President’s complete statement regarding the termination of the program please click here.