DACA Remains Valid for Now
By Reuben Seguritan
June 21, 2017
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program remains valid. This is despite the fact that on Thursday, June 15, 2017, Secretary Kelly issued the Memorandum which officially rescinded the November 20, 2014 Memorandum creating the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans or DAPA and the Expanded DACA programs. The reasons for revoking the DAPA and Expanded DACA programs were: they were never implemented, there is an existing injunction on their implementation and the current immigration policy of the Trump administration is not in line with the programs.
Former President Barack Obama created the DACA program which allowed certain undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as young children to remain in the US and obtain work permits. The program began implementation on August 15, 2012.
In order to qualify for the DACA program, the undocumented immigrant must meet the following criteria: under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012; came to the US while under the age of 16; have continuously resided in the US from June 15, 2007 to the present; entered the US without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012; were physically present in the US on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces; have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind; and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
If the undocumented immigrant’s application for DACA is granted, a work permit will be issued and he will be allowed to remain in the US. The work permit is renewable every two years.
In 2014, former President Obama sought to expand DACA and introduced the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans or DAPA. Under the DAPA program, the undocumented immigrant parents of US citizens or lawful permanent resident children could remain in the US and would also be granted work permits. In order to qualify for the DAPA program, the undocumented immigrant parent must meet the following criteria: as of November 20, 2014, be the parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident; have continuously resided in the US since before January 1, 2010; have been physically present in the US on November 20, 2014 and while applying for DAPA; have no lawful immigration status on the date of application; not fall within the Secretary’s enforcement priorities; and present no other factors that, in the exercise of discretion, make the grant of deferred action inappropriate. The Expanded DACA provided for a wider range of ages and arrival dates and lengthened the period of deferred actions and work permits to 3 years.
However, the DAPA and Expanded DACA programs never took effect because twenty-six states challenged them before the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The court halted their implementation through an injunction. This decision was affirmed by the US Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court was deadlocked on the issue.
President Donald Trump consistently stated during his presidential campaign and in his speeches after becoming president that his administration would deport all undocumented immigrants and eliminate the DACA program.
But Secretary Kelly has made it very clear that the DACA program remains in effect. In fact, more than 17,000 new DACA permits were issued between January and March 2017. Furthermore, more than 107,000 DACA permit holders renewed their permits for an additional two years within the same period.
The Trump administration has not yet announced any long-term plans regarding the DACA program. But for now, the undocumented immigrants under the program can legally remain in the US with their work permits.