Since 2001, multiple bi-partisan bills, each commonly known as the DREAM Act, have been introduced in Congress to allow undocumented childhood arrivals in the United States to obtain permanent residency. These bills are premised on the acknowledgment that these undocumented immigrants have been largely raised in the United States and were seen as a way to remove immigration enforcement attention from “low priority” individuals who act as good citizens. In 2010, the House passed such a bill only for it to stall in the Senate when, despite having majority support, there were not enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.
Following these stalled efforts in Congress, in a June 15, 2012 policy memorandum, the Obama Administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative directing USCIS to exercise enforcement discretion and defer deportation for individuals participating in the program. Qualifying individuals entered the US prior to age 16, entered earlier than 2007, were required to be enrolled in school or a high school graduate, and not have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor. Approved individuals were required to submit renewal applications every two years and were able to obtain employment authorization documents. However, since DACA was implemented through a policy memorandum, it still does not provide for any means to obtain lawful status, nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid.
Since USCIS began accepting applications, almost 800,000 initial DACA applications have been approved, and thousands of DACA recipients have been able to go to college, buy houses and cars, and obtain lawful employment in the US. It is estimated that eliminating DACA would cost the U.S. $433.4 billion in lost GDP over a decade and reduce Social Security and Medicare tax contributions by $24.6 billion. The policy was created after acknowledgment that these undocumented immigrants had been largely raised in the United States, and was seen as a way to remove immigration enforcement attention from “low priority” individuals who act as good citizens
President Trump promised during his campaign to end the DACA program despite its general popularity and recognized success, claiming that it was an executive overreach by President Obama. Since it was implemented through an executive memorandum, President Trump can simply issue a new memorandum rescinding the old memorandum. Given the popularity of the program and the cover that it provides Republican lawmakers who can publicly complain about the program while quietly supporting its effects, it was widely expected that President Trump would not eliminate the program. However, on Tuesday, September 5, President Trump announced that the program was being eliminated in six months’ time. What does that mean?
- After today, new applications to participate in DACA will no longer be accepted
- Pending applications will reviewed on a “case by case” basis, details of which are unclear
- Individuals with work permits expiring on or before March 5, 2018 will be permitted to apply for a two year extension so long as they do so on or before October 5, 2017
It is clear, from the way the announcement was made to the six month rollout period that the Trump Administration is looking for Congress to finally resolve this issue before the six month period is up. In the meantime, it is imperative that DACA recipients with expiring work permits file renewal documents before the October 5 deadline.
We are closely monitoring this issue and all other immigration-related executive orders, laws and regulations which may impact employers. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns about how your company’s compliance with immigration law, please do not hesitate to contact us.
In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns about immigration law, please contact Alfredo Acin
ABOUT ALFREDO ACIN
Mr. Acin is an associate in the firm’s Family Practice Group. He assists clients in a variety of family law matters including divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, alimony, property division, post-divorce decree enforcement, modification of custody, visitation, and support, and drafting pre-nuptial and separation agreements. Although he believes that it is in every party’s best interests to resolve matters between the parties, Mr. Acin recognizes that sometimes this is not possible, in which case he will zealously advocate on his clients’ behalf.
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