The Department of Homeland Security announced on Wednesday that immigration agencies will resume processing of renewal applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which comes as a result of nationwide injunctions issued by a number of courts over the past months.
DACA is an Obama-era executive order that offers temporary protected status to undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors. Under the under the immigration program, DREAMers (named after the DREAM Act, a failed bill with the same provisions as DACA) are permitted to apply for two-year-renewable work permits, allowing them to legally work in the country and seek a driver’s license among other things.
In September last year, President Donald Trump announced that he would be rescinding DACA on the grounds that former President Obama had overstepped his executive power in creating the program. He did, however, give Congress six months to draft and pass a legislative-based replacement that would finally protect DREAMers for good.
While Congress attempted to produce several bills, none of these were passed into law over the body’s failure to come up with a bipartisan deal. The White House’s demands to include conditions such as the construction of a billion-dollar wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and the termination of chain immigration also dissuaded Democrat lawmakers from entering into a deal with GOP representatives.
This should have meant the effective termination of DACA, but two federal judges stepped in, issuing nationwide injunctions blocking the Trump administration from ending the program.
As such, the government is bound to carry on DACA operations as usual, including processing status renewal and special working permit applications. These injunctions should remain effective until the government has responded to all legal objections challenging its move to terminate DACA.
The debate over DACA has nonetheless taken the backseat while the Trump administration battles through legal challenges in court. Likewise, the Republican majority in the Congress has disregarded the numerous proposals for immigration reform at the legislative level until after the midterm elections conclude in November.
According to DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton, “We note that the DACA protections currently in place due to a court injunction are the result of a likely unconstitutional exercise of executive authority and only good for two years at a time. We believe Congress should find a permanent solution for the DACA population and will continue to work with Congress to that end.”
Homeland Security officials have assured the public that even if DACA were to be terminated, undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children would not be the government’s priority for deportation. This, however, has done little to ease the concerns of DREAMers, many of whom were too young to remember life in their home countries.
If you, or a loved one, are under DACA status and want to discuss your legal options should the worst happen, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney DaniellaLyttle.