Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program cannot be ended at this time.
Recipients and supporters of the DACA program received exciting news today. The US Supreme Court ruled DACA cannot be ended by the Trump administration in the immediate future. While the longer-term future of this program is still uncertain, this is a win for “dreamers” and their advocates. The full supreme court opinion can be accessed here.
DACA recipients have been in a state of limbo since 2017.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program initiated by the Obama administration, protects about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from being deported, allowing them to work and attend school in the U.S. with legal authorization. For the last three years, those with DACA status have been in a state of limbo, as the Trump administration’s September 2017 announcement of intent to end the program would leave many young undocumented Americans with no protection from deportation and no path to citizenship. Since then, current DACA recipients have been able to apply to renew their status, and have been encouraged by attorneys to do so early in case of program termination, but no new applications have been accepted.
The ruling creates an opportunity for additional challenges to the program.
The court ruled 5-4 on the issue, with liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer being joined in the majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts. The court’s logic for blocking the termination of the program is that the Trump administration has not provided a sufficient explanation for the reasoning behind ending the program; they did not actually evaluate whether or not DACA itself is a sound and legal policy. While this is an exciting win, the court does leave an opening for the Trump administration to potentially craft sufficient justifications for ending the program and make a second attempt to terminate it, which could be upheld by the court in the future. With only months left before the presidential election, DACA proponents hope that President Trump will not see a second term, leaving little time for a potential second attempt to be successful.
What does this mean for you as a DACA recipient?
The future of DACA remains uncertain, but this ruling is a hopeful sign which buys some time and provides meaningful temporary relief for current recipients. For now, DACA is still only a temporary program, not a permanent policy, but politicians such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are already advocating for taking the next step by passing permanent legislation to support DACA. According to various public opinion polls (Pew, New York Times), the majority of the general public believes that the DACA program should remain in place.
Can I now apply for DACA as a new applicant?
As mentioned above, we definitely encourage existing DACA holders to renew their status. As for whether or not new applicants will be able to apply for DACA, at the moment this is still unclear. Many legal experts argue that new applicants should be able to apply immediately following the court decision, but United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow made a statement demonstrating his clear opposition to the ruling, and as of today there has been no official announcement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about accepting new applications. We encourage hopeful applicants to stay tuned.
We proudly represent DACA recipients and their families. Whether you’re a current DACA recipient or you hope to apply for the program, get in touch with us to discuss how this Supreme Court decision affects your immigration status.