Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an Obama-era immigration policy that defers deportation of individuals who entered the country without permission when they were children. Not only are qualifying individuals temporarily safe from deportation, but they also usually receive work permits.
The Trump Administration rescinded the DACA program by publishing a memorandum on September 5, 2017. In an exciting decision on June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court determined DHS did not follow federal law when canceling DACA. If you qualify for the program or know someone who does, you should understand what the Supreme Court’s ruling means for you.
The federal government must process DACA requests
The clearest benefit to DACA-eligible individuals is that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of DHS, must continue to process DACA requests. That is, the federal government must maintain the program until DHS goes through the legally required and potentially lengthy process of ending it.
You may be able to renew your deferred action
To comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, USCIS has announced it is accepting DACA renewal requests under the rules of the program before its rescission. Unfortunately, the government is not currently taking initial DACA requests.
To qualify for a DACA renewal, DHS must have previously granted deferred action under the program. Each of the following must also be true:
- You have not left the U.S. since August 15, 2012, without an advance parole document.
- You have continuously lived in the U.S. since the DHS approved your initial DACA request.
- You have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions, fewer than three minor misdemeanor convictions and are not a threat to national security.
Some unanswered questions remain
While the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and the DHS’s response are certainly good news, some unanswered questions remain. For example, the USCIS has not yet published guidance on processing initial DACA petitions. The same is true for giving out advance parole documents to eligible DACA recipients.
The biggest unanswered question, though, is what will happen to the DACA program in the future. Regrettably, until congress fundamentally changes immigration law, DHS may attempt to end DACA once again.