USCIS to Receive DACA Applications Again
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is not yet dead. While in September 2017 Trump’s administration announced intent to abandon the program by March 2018, an injunction by Federal US District Judge William Alsup temporarily blocked the plan. That allowed The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to accept DACA applications once again.
DACA was introduced in 2012 by former President Obama’s administration. It allowed immigrants who had entered the country illegally as minors to receive renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation to their home country, allowing them to apply for work permit in the process. They had to meet certain requirements, though. To be eligible to enter the program, a minor had to:
Have resided in the United States continuously from June 15, 2007 to present;
Have graduated from high school, have a GED, are currently enrolled in school, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Coastguard or Armed Forces of the U.S.;
Have entered the country before turning 16;
Be under the age of 31 by June 15, 2012;
Be physically present in the US and out-of-status on June 15, 2012; and
Not be a convicted felon or convicted of three or more “serious” misdemeanors;
As of 2017, nearly 700,000 immigrants have been admitted in the program. However, with the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and the change of the leadership of the country, the future of DACA was put in danger. Trump’s administration decision to slowly shut it down was announced on September 5, 2017, but was opposed by the University of California only three days later. The University of California filed a lawsuit on September 8, 2017 against rescission of DACA, claiming that it violates the right to procedural due process and the rights under the Administrative Procedure Act. The lawsuit resulted in the aforementioned injunction on January 9, 2018. It is not ruled on the merits of the law, however. The judge wrote DACA rescission would give plaintiffs irreparable harm if the program ends before the legal dispute is resolved. Nevertheless, it delayed the DACA termination for some time.
The ruling requires USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security to start accepting DACA renewal applications again. The White House blasted Judge Alsup ruling, but until they find another solution, immigrants who meet the DACA requirements are eligible to renew again.
On January 13, 2018, four days after the ruling, USCIS updated the information related to DACA applications on their website. Depending on their current status, USCIS divides current and potential applicants into several groups and explains how their applications should be treated:
People who have never had DACA: USCIS will not accept their applications.
People who currently have DACA: They may request renewal by filing appropriate forms with the appropriate fee or approved fee exemption 150 to 120 days in advance of the expiration of their current DACA.
People whose DACA expired on or after September 5, 2017: They may still file a renewal request, listing the date their prior DACA had ended.
People whose DACA expired before September 5, 2017: Although they cannot apply for a DACA renewal, they may file a new initial DACA request.
People whose DACA was terminated: They cannot request DACA renewal, but they are eligible to file a new initial DACA request.
Advance parole: USCIS will not accept or approve advance parole requests from DACA recipients.
This means that the Department of Homeland Security has to keep DACA running, with the only exception being that they do not accept new applications from immigrants who have never received DACA. Further, USCIS is not presently granting advance parole anymore, although, it is not prevented from doing so by law. Also, according to the injunction, DHS has the right to take enforcement action against anyone who poses a threat to national security.
It is important to note that court’s ruling relates only to renewal of applications. Those who never applied for DACA are still deprived from doing so. However, this is just a short-term solution to Dreamers who wish to live and work in the United States outside of the shadows, even for those who can request a renewal now. Trump’s administration is going to appeal Judge Alsup’s ruling, and although the whole procedure is going to many months, immigrants need a permanent solution to this issue now more than ever.
If you would like to know if you qualify to renew your DACA or reinstate a DACA that was expired or terminated, please call Immigration Lawyers USA at 305-501-0783 to schedule a consultation.