The History and Current State of DACA
The DREAM Act
Before Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) began in 2012, Attorney Julie Sparks worked closely with DREAMers to push the Obama administration to take action in their favor. The name “DREAMer” comes from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, a bill introduced to Congress in 2001. This bill proposed a path to permanent legal status for those who met the program’s requirements, but unfortunately, the bill never passed. Later, protests in support of relief for DREAMers occurred throughout the nation, and many DREAMers were arrested while seeking legal documentation. At Morales & Sparks, we have supported DREAMers for many years. The initiation of DACA by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2012 was a huge win for these young people.
What is DACA and who is eligible?
DACA is a program in which undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States before the age of 16 may qualify for protection from deportation and for work authorization. Other requirements include: an age less than 31 as of June 15, 2012; continuous physical presence since June 15, 2007; undocumented status on June 15, 2012; current enrollment in school or possession of a high school diploma or GED; no convictions for certain types of crimes and no threat to national security. Currently, there are over 700,000 DACA recipients.
Updates to DACA
DACA applications were accepted beginning in August 2012. The program remained intact until September 2017, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Trump would end the program in March 2018. Several organizations brought lawsuits arguing that the abrupt end of DACA was in violation of applicable laws. A federal court ruled in favor of the DREAMers, and as of January 9, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, began accepting renewal applications again.
More recently, on April 24, 2018, a ruling came down in a separate lawsuit which held that USCIS must begin accepting initial applications as well. However, that ruling will not go into effect for 90 days, as an order of vacatur was issued. This order gives DHS an opportunity to explain the grounds on which they decided to end the DACA program.
If the latest court order becomes final in 90 days, individuals will once again be able to file initial applications. We also expect that advance parole, a document that allows international travel, will again become available to DACA recipients.
On May 1, 2018, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia filed a joint lawsuit seeking an injunction on the program. This injunction is meant to prevent the federal government from renewing or issuing DACA permits in the future. Until this lawsuit comes to an end, the fate of the program remains in the air. The immigration attorneys at Morales & Sparks will continue to stand by and advocate for DREAMers across the nation.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general information and is not to be constituted as legal advice. If you need help with a specific issue, please seek the advice of an attorney.