DACA Applications and Renewals May Resume for Now
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, introduced by President Obama in 2012, is no stranger to legal challenges. Designed to give undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children an opportunity to remain and work in the country, DACA has helped hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries. The program’s strict eligibility requirements led the Obama administration to attempt to expand the program in 2014, but the effort was ultimately squashed by a split Supreme Court and conservative-leaning lower courts.
President Trump announced a “winding down” and eventual end to the DACA program in 2017. The President acknowledged that a permanent legislative solution could serve those presently benefitting from DACA and gave Congress a six-month window to act. Both Republican-controlled houses declined to act, leaving the fate of DACA-eligible individuals and current beneficiaries in a precarious position.
Legal challenges to Trump’s actions were immediately filed, giving vulnerable DACA recipients a temporary reprieve, but the case did not reach the Supreme Court until November of 2019. The Court finally delivered its decision on June 18, 2020, voting against the Trump Administration in a 5-4 vote.
The DACA program was immediately restored as a result of the decision. Current DACA recipients needing to renew their status can now apply to do so. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has not yet signaled when or if they will begin accepting new applications. Still, those who believe that they might be eligible to make a new initial DACA application, should speak with a competent immigration attorney as soon as possible. Though traveling abroad is already challenging due to the ongoing pandemic, one should also note that it remains unclear if DACA recipients will be readmitted into the country at this time, even if they are issued a valid travel document by USCIS.
While immigration advocates were relieved by the move, others have been quick to point out that the Supreme Court decision is actually quite narrow. Chief Justice John Roberts joined his liberal colleagues in the deciding vote and penned the prevailing opinion, writing that the Court did not object to Trump’s ending the DACA program in principle. Rather, the Court decided that the manner in which he attempted to end the program, described as “arbitrary and capricious,” violated federal guidelines on administrative procedures.
Furthermore, the opinion explicitly clarifies that the decision does not rule on the legality of DACA, meaning the Trump administration is welcome to attempt a new shutdown through executive action. In other words, DACA beneficiaries remain vulnerable to the actions of the Trump administration and any future administration seeking to curb immigration. The program is restored for now, but its existence could be suspended or eliminated entirely at any moment.
To the relief of some immigration experts, some political observers have speculated President Trump will abstain from another effort to rescind DACA for now. A second effort might prove controversial in an election year, and the President is unlikely to take any risk that might threaten his reelection.
While the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has publicly touted his support for DACA, a more permanent legislative solution will better protect DACA beneficiaries. The results of the forthcoming November 2020 election could make that path more likely, but for now, it is fair to conclude that the future of the program is in a state of constant jeopardy.
Take Action Now
If you believe you qualify for DACA or are an existing beneficiary needing to renew your status, we can help. Our distinguished immigration attorneys at The Gaston Law Firm, P. A. have substantial experience in assisting clients throughout South Florida with DACA matters. We can assist your preparation of application documents or your renewal filing and will do everything we can to advocate for your case.
The future of DACA is unclear, so do not wait to take action. Call (888) 388-6859 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.