Did you get a chance to check out our recently published, January 30, 2018 blog post entitled “A Timeline: The Status of DACA from its 2012 Inception to Present Date?” To briefly recap, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) started during the Obama Administration on August 15, 2012. This immigration program grants temporary protection for certain individuals, who meet specific guidelines, and provides administrative relief from deportation out of the U.S. for two years, subject to renewal. Individuals who received deferred action under DACA may also be eligible for temporary work authorization. On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded DACA. Then on January 13, 2018, as a result of a federal court order for a preliminary injunction, USICS announced that DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017. On January 20, 2018, after much infighting (with DACA’s status being one of many hot-button issues of contention between Democrats and Republicans), the government shut down for 69 hours. Next up, Congress had to set a short-term spending bill by midnight February 8, 2018 or face another government shutdown.
As promised in our January 30, 2018 blog post, the immigration attorneys at Kuck | Baxter will closely monitor the situation and after the February 8th deadline occurs, we will provide an update blog—recapping any news or changes to DACA.
February 8th has now come and gone. So, here’s what happened:
- February 8, 2018: Congress failed to set a short-term spending bill by the midnight, February 18, 2018 deadline and the government shuts down again.
- February 9, 2018: After five and a half hours of government shutdown, Congress passed a budget deal and the brief government shutdown ended.
Many immigration advocates are pessimistic about the future of DACA. The plan was to attach a DACA compromise to the must-pass Congressional budget deal—but this didn’t happen and as a result Democrats lost leverage on the DACA issue.
While the January 2018 federal court order will keep DACA recipients from losing their protections on March 5, 2018, the fate of DACA recipients could change at any time with another court decision.
When asked about what comes next for DACA, New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said, “First of all, we have the Senate procedure, which is my hope. We’re working with the (bipartisan group) to see if we can come to a two-pillar solution. Hopefully we could gather 60 votes for that. And then that would be it — we’d resist everything else, any other amendments, and then go back to the House and create all the pressure in the House to make it happen.”
However, most believe that it is extremely unlikely that the procedural threshold of 60 votes will be met. Similarly, while there are other plausible options to save DACA, they are extremely unlikely:
- Omnibus leverage option: There’s the omnibus—the spending bills due in March to fund the government under the budget deal passed on Feb. 9, 2018. However, it’s unrealistic that the Democrats will be able to use the omnibus as leverage for DACA.
- Temporary DACA extension option: There’s also the option of a temporary one-year or two-year extension of DACA without a permanent solution, though lawmakers have mainly denounced that option.
Every DACA recipient should be renewing their DACA right now, regardless of expiration date. You are at least getting two years from the filing date, which might only extend your DACA for six months, BUT that is six more months of a work permit that you might not otherwise have. This also gets you time through the next election in November 2018, where the party in power, typically, loses at least 30 seats in the House of Representatives. If that happens, Democrats would control the House and there then might be a chance of the DREAM Act passing at that time.
If you have received temporary protection from deportation under DACA, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an immigration attorney/DACA attorney about your options if DACA or any other immigration program is repealed or changes.