Many people are concerned about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (aka DACA) program. Despite White House assurances in the beginning of the administration that DACA would be safe, the Trump Administration now seems to be backing down on its commitment. In mid June of this year, the Texas Attorney General and AG’s from nine other Republican states sent an ultimatum to Attorney General Jeff Sessions – if the Trump Administration does not move to end the DACA program by September 5, 2017, they will file a court challenge to end the program. This would force the U.S. government to either defend the program in litigation, or abandon it. Then Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said that the administration would not commit to defending the program in Court if Texas and the coalition brings it’s lawsuit.
For now, the program remains in effect, with continuing uncertainty. What we know right now is that Department of Homeland Security still accepting and processing new applications for DACA, and is currently renewing work permits that are expiring. On the other hand, application to the program involves more risk, since it appears more likely that it could end at any time. Nearly 800,000 young adults have benefited by the program by gaining temporary work authorization, that is renewable every 2 years. But if you are considering applying for DACA for the first time, you should talk to a qualified immigration attorney to help you access your risk. In fact, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) now recommends that if you are submitting a first time DACA application, that you do not do so without legal representation. The NILC suggests you consider the following negative factors. If DACA is withdrawn, there is no guidance on what USCIS will do about pending applications. Worse case scenario – you may lose your application fee and USCIS could share your personal information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Also, without proper legal advise, your application could identify you for deportation if you fit the administration’s expanded enforcement priorities. On the other hand, submitting an application now could have positive result if DACA continues, or DACA continues but is closed to new applicants, or if DACA is phased out gradually as work permits expire. Keep an eye on this blog for updates to the DACA program.