Over the next two years, almost 800,000 young and undocumented immigrants may lose their protection from deportation. The final decision will be up to Congress, because the Trump Administration is pulling the plug on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, established by the Obama Administration in June 2012. The end of DACA, announced on September 5th by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, may disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives. If you have been approved for protection under the DACA policy, you may need the advice of an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney in the weeks and months to come.

However, the Trump Administration has given Congress six months to step up and save or revise the DACA policy. President Trump said, “We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.”

WHICH IMMIGRANTS ARE PROTECTED UNDER THE DACA POLICY?

Thus, for at least six months, the young immigrants who are currently protected by the DACA policy will not lose the ability to live, to study, or to work in the United States. Since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was first implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012, more than 785,000 “Dreamers” – young people originally brought as children to the United States by their families – have been approved for protection. Many of those young people have never spoken a language other than English and have never lived in any nation other than the United States.

To qualify for DACA protection, an applicant had to:

  • have entered the United States before his or her 16th birthday
  • have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007
  • be under age 31 on June 15, 2012 (that is, be born on or after June 16, 1981)

Since 2012, the DACA policy has allowed the Dreamers to live in the United States without fear and to acquire driver’s licenses, attend college, work, and pay income taxes. According to a recent study by the CATO Institute, deporting the nearly 800,000 people covered by the DACA policy would cost the United States more than $60 billion in lost tax revenue and would mean a $280 billion reduction in U.S. economic growth over the next ten years.

Temporary work authorization and temporary protection from deportation were the only benefits that the DACA policy provided to the Dreamers. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals offered them no path to citizenship in the United States and no path to legal permanent residence. The immigrants who qualified for protection under the DACA policy have been required to re-qualify every two years, and almost 800,000 renewals have been approved.

Those immigrants who are currently approved for DACA protection will retain their approved period of deferred action and their employment authorization documents (EADs) until those documents expire. Those who had initial or renewal DACA requests still pending on September 5, 2017, will have their applications processed and adjudicated. DACA beneficiaries with EADs that expire from September 5, 2017 through March 5, 2018 must submit a renewal application by October 5, 2017.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE DREAMERS?

Previous legislative attempts to protect the Dreamers have consistently failed in Congress, and while there is substantial support for the Dreamers and for the DACA policy in both parties, there is simply no way to predict at this time if a new Congressional initiative to save DACA – or to create something comparable to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – would be a success or a failure. Listed here are the proposals that are now being offered for Congressional consideration:

Listed here are the proposals that are now being offered for Congressional consideration:

S. 1615/H.R. 3440: The Dream Act of 2017 is a bipartisan proposal offered in the Senate by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Dick Durbin and sponsored in the House by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard. The proposal would give the Dreamers who meet its requirements legal permanent residence status in the United States.

H.R. 3591: The American Hope Act of 2017 would also give the Dreamers the chance to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States. The proposal was introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez and now has more than one hundred cosponsors.

H.R. 1468: The Recognizing America’s Children Act, offered by Representative Carlos Curbelo, would allow the Dreamers to apply for an adjustment of status.

If the Congress fails to take any action to protect the current DACA beneficiaries, more than 600,000 Dreamers will lose their protection from deportation over the next two years. It could happen. Since its beginning, immigration opponents have aggressively criticized – and have challenged in court – the Obama Administration’s DACA policy.

In fact, the Trump Administration’s decision to end the DACA program is itself a response to the attorneys general of ten states. In June, those officials gave the administration the option of ending the DACA program or defending it in federal court against the legal challenge they had prepared.

ARE THE DREAMERS NOW AT RISK?

There’s now some genuine concern that the personal information provided to the federal government by the DACA beneficiaries could be used against them – especially if the Congress fails to provide new protections. However, a Department of Homeland Security official told CNN that all of the information given to the government by the Dreamers will remain within the agencies of that department. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has administered the DACA policy, will provide information requested by ICE only “where there’s a significant law enforcement or national security interest,” the official added.

If you have previously qualified for deferred action under the DACA policy and you need legal advice now, or if you are a U.S.-based employer, you hire immigrants, and you have concerns regarding the end of DACA, make the call to speak with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney. The recent changes in U.S. immigration policy have been controversial and confusing, and they’re not over.

Hundreds of thousands of families and employers across the nation are being affected by these changes, but of course, every immigrant’s situation is different. Let an experienced immigration attorney provide the legal help and guidance that’s right for you.