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There are just under 700,000 active beneficiaries of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).  Several years ago, based on the government’s assurances, these children and young adults stepped out of the shadows and revealed everything about themselves to apply for the program.  They described how and when they came to the U.S., their entire residence, work, and school histories as well as family connections.  The Trump Administration’s decision to rescind DACA benefits was a betayal of this trust.  The recision was not because of bad or criminal behavior, since DACA beneficiaries had to prove they had clean backgrounds.

Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, has ruled that the government must reinstate the DACA program. Under this program, some undocumented aliens, brought to the United States as children and otherwise meeting the program’s guidelines, had been able to request two-year periods of permission to remain in the U.S. and employment authorization. In 2017, the Trump Administration decided to phase out the program.

In April of 2018, Judge Bates held the Administration’s decision to end the program unlawful, finding it arbitrary and capricious.” He allowed the government 90 days to respond to his order. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responded and the Judge reaffirmed his decision, finding the government had rescinded DACA without any rational reason for doing to.

Judge Bates granted the government a 20-day delay before his order goes into effect, to allow DHS to decide whether to appeal and to seek a stay of the order.  If the Judge’s ruling goes into effect after August 23rd, the government must restart the DACA program fully. This means it must accept new DACA applications from persons who have not applied before, as well as extension applications from current DACA beneficiaries.  But for now, USCIS will not consider first-time DACA applications , but will continue to accept and process DACA renewal applications and initial DACA applications filed by previously DACA recipients.

DACA recipients, commonly known as “dreamers,” were brought to the United States at a young age.  They either entered the U.S. unlawfully or entered lawfully but then lost their status for some reason.  DACA only applies to those who came to the United States prior to their 16th birthdays and continuously resided in the United States for a long time with no lawful status.  DACA applicants must be in school, unless they have graduated from high school or obtained a GED certificate.  They must have no significant criminal convictions and not pose any threat to national security or public safety.  It is grossly unfair to hold this against them and to force them to leave the country to return somewhere they no longer know.

It is unknown how many eligible “dreamers” did not apply for DACA.  Estimates range from another 200,000 to 3 million.  Many people have applied for DACA on their own or through the use of non-governmental agencies providing a reduced price services.

But some have issues, such as proving their presence in the United States or minor court matters, for which it would be wise to seek counsel.  If you would like advice on this or other immigration matters, contact one of the attorneys at Deutsch, Killea and Eapen, Immigration Law Firm.


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