In September, the Trump administration announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be phased out by March 2018, leaving it to Congress to develop a plan for the recipients of DACA, known as DREAMers. As the program is winding down, however, democrats have indicated that they will protect the program before it expires.
Though the president has suggested that he will not support an omnibus spending bill that includes protections for DACA recipients without significant concessions, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted that DREAMers would be protected from deportation before the year’s end. In the latest development, democrats have threatened to withhold their support for a spending bill unless it protects DACA. During a press briefing, Pelosi said, “I’ll have to see what the spending bill is, but I fully intend that we will — we will not leave here without the DREAM Act passing with a DACA fix.”
Some republicans, on the other hand, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have suggested that the program should not be tacked to a spending bill and that “artificial deadlines” shouldn’t be set outside of the ones they already have.
If a solution isn’t obtained, a report by the Migration Policy Institute estimates that by March 2020, all current 690,000 recipients will have lost their DACA status, representing an average of 915 DREAMers a day who would lose their work authorization and protection from deportation.
In announcing the decision to end the program, the Trump administration asserted that they had received a letter from 10 state Attorneys General stating that the DACA program was unlawful. In a letter to Acting Secretary Duke, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that DACA “was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress’ repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
DACA was created to protect undocumented immigrants under the age of 16 who were brought into the country as children and have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007. Those protected by the program could obtain driver’s licenses, enroll in college and obtain jobs.
Though its expiration date has been set for March 2018, the future of DACA still remains uncertain. Even if Congress does not protect it, the president could decide to extend it another six months. Several bills have also been introduced as well, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, including:
- S. 1615, the Dream Act of 2017, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
- H.R. 3440, the Dream Act of 2017, introduced by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.
- H.R. 3591, the American Hope Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.
- H.R. 1468, the Recognizing America’s Children Act, introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.
If you have an opinion on any or all of these bills, we encourage you to contact your congressional representatives by clicking here. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has put together several fast and easy resources to encourage a fix to DACA, which can be found on their webpage.
In addition, several lawsuits have also been filed against the Trump administration for the rescission with the claim that the decision violates federal law.
We’re hoping that a bill will be passed before the end of the year and are closely watching the matter. We will update our webpage with pertinent news. If you have any questions on DACA or immigration law in general, please give me a call.
Brad Hendrick leads the immigration law practice at Caplan and Earnest LLC. He may be reached at [email protected] or 303-443-8010.