On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after six months – on March 5, 2018. The six-month period is intended to give the Congress time to come up with legislation to provide a solution for the 800,000 foreigners living in America who have benefited from this program.
The DACA Program, launched in 2012 by President Obama, allows unauthorized migrants who entered the U.S. as children (subject to their fulfilling certain criteria) to get protection from deportation and obtain work permits for a fixed period of time. This temporary period of protection and grant of employment benefit is initially for two years with the option to file extensions.
The DACA program will now terminate next year, on March 5th. Effective September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security will not accept any new DACA applications, but will process applications filed prior to September 5th, for a limited period. Existing DACA beneficiaries who have valid work authorization permits can lawfully work in the U.S. until their work permits expire, regardless of the March 5th cutoff date. Also, individuals whose work permits are set to expire between September 5, 2017 – March 5, 2018 will be allowed to apply for a two-year renewal, latest by October 5, 2017, after which no renewal applications will be accepted by the government.
Should Congress fail to enact any legislation protecting the DACA recipients, these foreign nationals who currently have legal standing to live and work in the U.S. will lose their legal status once their permits expire, subjecting themselves to potential deportation. A Bill protecting the DACA recipients – the bipartisan DREAM Act – is pending in the Congress, and more bills to address the fate of these individuals are likely to be introduced in the months ahead.
Zeenat Phophalia, Esq., Senior Associate