What is the DACA Program? The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivers program (commonly called by its acronym “DACA”) is an immigration program that grants temporary protection for qualified individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as children—it provides administrative relief from deportation, protecting the recipients from deportation from the U.S. for two years, subject to renewal. DACA also typically gives the approved individuals temporary work authorization. President Trump has rallied against DACA since the first day of his presidential campaign. The status of DACA recipients in this country has always been somewhat precarious, but now it is completely up in the air with DACA in possible queue for the chopping block.
With twists and turns, firings and hirings, and rapid-fire reversals of Obama-era policies, the Trump Administration is worryingly resembling a “Lost Season” of a fictional, political television show such as The West Wing or House of Cards. With DACA’s status constantly teetering, it’s hard to get your bearings. To help you get oriented and make sense of the winding path of DACA since its 2012 inception, here’s a timeline with key dates:
- August 15, 2012: President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to exercise discretion to grant deferred action to qualified immigrant youth. Following this directive, on August 15, 2015 DHS announced that U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service (“USICS”) has begun accepting applications for DACA.
- June 16, 2015: Trump launches his presidential campaign. In his campaign speech on this day, Trump says “I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration, immediately.”
- August 31, 2016: Trump gives a campaign speech in Arizona, stating that part of his plan if elected president is to “immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants.”
- Sept 15, 2017: Trump administration rescinds DACA; the then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced on September 15, 2017 that DACA would be phased out for current recipients and that no new requests for temporary protection from deportation under DACA would be granted.
- January 9, 2018: A federal judge in California issued a nationwide preliminary injunction on Trump’s rescission of the DACA program—“The preliminary injunction on Trump’s cancellation of DACA requires the Department of Homeland Security to maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis on the same terms and conditions as were in effect before the rescission on September 5, 2017, including allowing those who already benefit from DACA to apply to renew their status.”
- January 13, 2018: Due to the January 9, 2018 federal court order for preliminary injunction, USICS announced on January 13, 2018 that the agency, “has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017.”
- January 16, 2018: The U.S. Justice Department officially appeals to the Supreme Court, appealing the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that allowed Dreamersto extend their work permits. This appeal fulfills the promise Trump made earlier in January to challenge the ruling. This appeal adds fuel to the fire, further fracturing the government and causing increasing hostility and partisan tensions.
- January 20, 2018: After much infighting, the government officially shuts down. DACA is a major point of contention in the arguments between Democrats and Republicans who are unable to reach an agreement on the issue.
- January 23, 2018: After a contentious 69 hour U.S. government shutdown, the shutdown finally ends. The breakthrough in the impasse finally came after Defendants reluctantly voted to provide temporary pay for resumed government operations through February 8, 2018. Democrats relented on this issue in return for Republican leaders promises to soon address the issues of the currents struggle of Dreamers and other hot-button issues. Congress has until February 8, 2018 to find a solution to these issues or the government will shut down again.
- Now What? Stay tuned to the blog. We will be closely monitoring the situation and after the February 8th deadline occurs, we will immediately recap any news about DACA and changes go any immigration laws, policies, or programs in a new blog post.
When you are dealing with complex, constantly changing issues whose outcome may have a significant effect on your life, it is prudent and strongly recommended that you don’t go at it alone but rather have an expert at your side. If you are facing an immigration law issue, we urge you to consult with an immigration attorney/DACA attorney about the potential impact of upcoming changes to immigration law and policies and to find out the best options for dealing with any present or anticipated immigration law issues. It is better to prepare now and get all your ducks in a row than be blind sighted by a change to an existing immigration law or policy, such as the repeal of DACA.