On September 5, the Trump Administration announced its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives certain young undocumented immigrants a two-year period of protection from deportation and allows them to work in the United States.
According to a statement issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the White House plans to put in place a phase-out termination plan, giving Congress a six-month window to replace the program through legislation before it expires on March 5, 2018. The administration’s decision could affect as many as 800,000 individuals, also known as “Dreamers”, who have signed up for the program since its inception in 2012 under President Obama.
The DACA program requires that an applicant must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and lived there before June 15, 2007. Individuals who apply for the program must also fulfill education and criminal record requirements. For example, to be eligible, an individual must currently be enrolled in school, have graduated, or obtained a certificate of completion from high school. In addition, an applicant cannot have been older than 30 when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enacted the policy in 2012. In addition, an individual must have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor and not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Attorney General Sessions stated that DHS will continue reviewing applications for initial or renewed DACA benefits that have already been filed before the administration’s September 5 announcement. In addition, DHS is allowing current beneficiaries whose benefits expire before the six-month deadline a one-month window to renew their DACA status.
There are several bills pending in Congress that would create permanent legal status for DACA beneficiaries, but Republicans and Democrats not yet reached consensus on these issues for years.
NACo will continue to monitor any developments as they relate to DACA or other immigration policy.