Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions III announced today that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by Executive Action in June 2012 will be terminated in six months. DACA currently provides protection from deportation and employment authorization for approximately 800,000 individuals brought to the United States as children who otherwise lack legal status in the United States. In order to qualify for DACA, an applicant must show, among other requirements, that he or she came to the U.S. under the aged of sixteen, fulfills certain educational requirements, and does not have a criminal record. Under the DACA program, eligible applicants receive a two-year permit, which may be renewed as long as they continue to meet the requirements for the program.
Immediately after this announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memorandum providing details on how the Administration will execute the wind down of the program. Highlights from DHS include the following:
- DHS will generally continue to adjudicate properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for an employment authorization document (EAD) that have been accepted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as of September 5, 2017.
- DHS will generally continue to adjudicate properly filed DACA renewal requests and associated applications for an EAD that will expire before March 5, 2018. Under the memorandum, any application for a DACA and EAD renewal by these particular beneficiaries must be accepted by USCIS on or before October 5, 2017.
- DHS will reject all new DACA requests and associated applications for EADs filed after September 5, 2017.
- DHS will not approve any new Form I-131 Application for Travel Document (advance parole) based on DACA. However, DHS will generally honor the validity period for previously approved Forms I-131 Application for Travel Document. Individuals who have a valid advance parole travel document should consult with an immigration attorney before making travel plans.
- DHS will administratively close all pending Forms I-131 Application for Travel Document filed under DACA, and will refund all associated fees.
- Because DACA beneficiaries have been applying for DACA permits on different dates since its inception in June 2012, their two-year status has been expiring over rolling periods. The group eligible to renew their permits under the Attorney General’s announcement – those whose DACA expires on or before March 5, 2018 – may renew one more time to receive a two-year approval. Those whose status expires after March 5, 2018 will not be allowed to extend their status. Many DACA recipients will soon be in the United States without any protection from deportation and will no longer be eligible for employment authorization under DACA. These individuals should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to understand whether there are other options available to them.
Prior to the announcement ending the program, individuals, business leaders, groups, and universities from across the country, as well as Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, urged the President against termination of DACA. The hope now is that Congress will pass legislation to protect these individuals, many of whom do not remember any home other than the United States. Maggio Kattar is proud to represent many DACA recipients and stands in solidarity with these individuals during this difficult time.