Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program Rescinded
On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced its decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.
The program was implemented through Executive Order by President Obama in 2012 and allowed certain unlawfully present individuals who entered the United States as minors to receive deferred deportation and work authorization in two-year renewable periods. Beneficiaries of this program are individuals who were brought to the United States as children and have lived here since. In addition to the physical presence requirements, DACA recipients must also show that they have no significant criminal record and are enrolled in high school or college, or already have a degree.
The program has allowed approximately 800,000 individuals to live and work openly and lawfully in the United States over the last 5 years. Elimination of this program leaves these individuals in a state of uncertainty. The Cato Institute estimates that deportation of DACA participants would cost over $60 billion to the federal government and would result in an approximately $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.
Aside from the economic burden of removing these individuals from the workforce, there are significant humanitarian concerns with ending this program. First, the majority of DACA recipients have never lived anywhere other than the United States and have no “home” in any other country. Additionally, none of these individuals made the decision to enter the United States unlawfully, as they were brought to this country as children too young to provide knowledge and consent to their actions.
The Trump Administration will implement a 6-month “wind down” of the program, confirming that no action will be taken against DACA beneficiaries for 6 months, or until March 5, 2018. Additionally, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services confirmed that it will stop accepting any new applications for DACA benefits immediately. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirms that it does not intend to start targeting DACA recipients for deportation at this time, though its priorities are subject to change after the six month period has expired.
DACA recipients will now turn to Congress in hopes that legislation addressing their status protection can be passed before the end of the six-month period. There are currently several bills that have been filed addressing DACA recipients. These include a new version of the DREAM Act, the American Hope Act, and the Recognizing America’s Children Act.
Strasburger will continue to monitor these legislative efforts in the coming weeks and months and provide updates as they are made available. In the meantime, if you currently employ a DACA recipient or are a DACA recipient, we encourage you to contact your Immigration Attorney immediately.