Is the End of DACA here?
On September 5, 2017 President Trump ordered the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA. You can read the letter requesting the Department of Homeland Security request a Memorandum entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individual Who Came to the United States as Children.”
DACA was first put into place in 2012 by President Obama to protect young undocumented immigrant that was brought to the United States as children from being deported.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are approximately 800,000 young adults who are currently benefiting from the protection of DACA. Most of the DACA participants come from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and South Korea. By far the vast majority of the “Dreamers” live in California and Texas. Under DACA those young adults have been able to work legally and live without the fear of deportation.
It is now up to Congress to determine what is next for the thousands of young adult whose future their decision will affect. There is a discussion of addressing the needs of DACA within a more encompassing overhaul of the current immigration system. But President Trump has set the deadline for 6 months. Previous legislation designed to protect the Dreamers has died.
Currently, President Trump’s plan if Congress can not get legislation passed to protect Dreamers the current DACA program would be phased out over through 2019. Exactly how that phase out would work is unclear. In fact, President Trump has created more uncertainty for these young Dreamers by indicating that if Congress doesn’t get the job done that he will likely revisit the issue.
What’s Next for Dreamers?
Dreamers that are already signed up with the DACA program can stay until their permit expires. If their permit expires prior to March 5, 2018, they can renew for another two year period. They must submit their renewal application no later than October 5, 2017, to be eligible for renewal.
If their permit expires after the March 5, 2018, deadline they will not be eligible for renewal. This will put them at risk of deportation when their permit expires.
Many of the Dreamers who came as children are now adults with families of their own. Those children are United State citizens who may face being separated from one or both of their parents.
Dreamers who are not already registered with the DACA program may have missed out. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Frequently Asked Questions Page, effective September 5, 2017, they are no longer accepting new applications for DACA. They will only be processing renewals.
In the past several bills have been passed around but none of them have garnered enough support to get passed. It is up to the current Congress to readdress this issue. But waiting for Congress to act leaves one’s future in the hands of others.
Can A Dreamer Apply for Citizenship?
The pathway to citizenship for Dreamers is not easy. One of the hardest steps is obtaining a green card and have held that green card (legal permanent resident status) for five years. The must also have been physically in the United States for the past 30 months. Obtaining a green card keeps the majority of people from becoming legal citizens.
There are 3 ways a get your green card:
- Sponsorship by an employer
- Refugee or asylum status
- Close family member seeks permission to bring an individual to the United States
The most common way for an individual to get their permanent resident status (green card) is by using a family member. However, even that process can have an extensive wait time from 18 months to 25 years.
Other requirements for citizenship include that the individual must be of good moral character as well as speak, read, and write the English language. Candidates for citizenship also must process a knowledge of U.S. History and pass an interview.
Help with DACA Renewal or Citizenship
Seeking the assistance of a lawyer to help you determine what option are available to you may be very important. Contact the Texas Lawyer Referral Service to find an immigration attorney.