On September 5, 2017, President Trump released a statement confirming his decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program. DACA was created via executive action in June 2012 under President Obama to benefit a group of undocumented foreign nationals commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” The effective date of the program rescission is March 5, 2018.
The DACA program provides temporary immigration benefits to undocumented individuals who arrived in the U.S. as minors. The program is based upon prosecutorial discretion, with eligibility determined through an application process and background screening. Under this program, approximately 800,000 individuals between the ages of 15 and 36 have been granted deferral from deportation as well as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
The Trump Administration has delayed the effective date of DACA termination by six months. Absent legislative action, the program will sunset on March 5, 2018. President Trump explained the sunset delay as providing Congress with an opportunity to act on legislative solutions. In his statement, the President clarified that all currently valid EADs will be honored until their expiration. Additionally, all applications currently in process will be adjudicated; individuals with DACA benefits expiring prior to March 5, 2018 can file renewals through October 5, 2017. This will provide additional short-term benefits to some.
The future of the Dreamers is uncertain and a renewed subject of heated debate. Several State Attorney Generals are making overtures about suing over DACA termination. Fortune 500 companies, universities and immigration advocacy groups are adamantly voicing their support for a long term, legislative, solution. However, it remains to be seen whether this Congress will be able to overcome years of policy differences which prevented passage of prior legislation and, in 2012, drove the creation of DACA.