The hope of Dreamers is renewed with the new U.S. Supreme Court decision!
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government – at least for now – must keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program alive.
How will the immigrants known as “Dreamers” be impacted by the ruling? Here are the details.
HISTORY OF THE DACA PROGRAM
In September 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded the DACA program that protected 785,000 immigrant children from deportation and provided them with the right to work – renewable every two years.
Nearly 20,000 Dreamers lost their benefits following this announcement as they failed to apply for renewal in the month granted to them by the administration.
Several lawsuits filed in the Northern District of California were consolidated, and the U.S. District Court of San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction barring the Trump Administration from ending the DACA program while the lawsuit proceeds.
The order was issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco on January 9, 2018, requiring U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to keep processing DACA renewals for Dreamers who have been approved for the program in the past.
WITHOUT THIS COURT RULING, WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?
Had this decision not been rendered by the California Court, Dreamers would have begun to lose their benefits after the March 5th deadline. This decision gave new hope to Dreamers, and a light in the scary darkness they have experienced since the rescission of DACA.
The Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to approve its plan to close down the DACA program by reversing a lower court order that is keeping DACA alive.
In February, a week before the March 5 deadline, the Supreme Court refused to reverse the lower court order, which compels the Department of Homeland Security to continue to accept DACA renewal applications.
This will give the 785,000 Dreamers, who had been approved before, the protection from deportation and the right to work legally in the U.S. for another two years.
IS THE DACA PROGRAM STILL ALIVE AND FUNCTIONING?
The California Court’s order, at least for now, remains in effect, so DACA remains alive. The 785,000 Dreamers who have been approved in the past can continue filing for renewal, while Congress decides their fate.
The Trump Administration’s original intention to close down DACA by March 5th won’t happen now, and the ultimate fate of the DACA program – again – remains to be determined.
However, it should be noted, the Supreme Court did not “save” DACA. Instead, the justices returned the case to the lower courts and said, “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.”
The ruling was expected. The Supreme Court rarely accepts requests to bypass the lower courts.
Although this might not be a total win for Dreamers, it still provides them with a “safe haven” for the next two years, as long as they file their renewal applications timely.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR DACA PROTECTION?
To qualify for DACA, an applicant must:
1. have entered the U.S. prior to his or her 16th birthday and lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
2. have been under age 31 on June 15, 2012 (that is, born on or since June 16, 1981)
3. have no felony convictions, no “significant” misdemeanor convictions, and no more than two misdemeanor convictions of any kind
4. have completed high school or a GED, or be attending high school, or be honorably discharged from the armed forces
Dreamers were raised and educated in the United States. They know no other home.
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR DACA? AND WHO CAN HELP?
To apply for DACA protection, immigrants who qualify must pay a $495 application fee, submit several forms, and produce documents showing that they meet the DACA requirements.
DACA does not provide permanent lawful status or a path to citizenship, and it does not establish eligibility for federal assistance or student aid.
If you are a Dreamer and you need legal advice regarding DACA – or advice regarding any other immigration matter – an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can help.
As a number of courts consider DACA and other immigration issues, and as Congress considers a variety of related proposals, immigration law has perhaps never been more confusing.
Do not hesitate to seek the legal advice you need. Immigration laws are being strictly enforced in 2018, and anyone who is not in full compliance with those laws could be subject to deportation.
WHERE DOES THE FEBRUARY RULING LEAVE DACA – AND THE DREAMERS?
The February ruling by the Supreme Court leaves the fate of DACA, for the moment, pending before a California appeals court. Quick action by the appeals court is not expected.
February’s Supreme Court ruling also allows Congress more time to craft a legislative remedy, but so far, Congress has failed to reach any agreement regarding DACA and the Dreamers.
Earlier in February, the Senate considered three different options that offer a permanent solution for Dreamers.
A proposal that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers – but placed severe restrictions on legal immigration – secured a mere 39 votes.
Two other proposals were considered more moderate, but neither received the votes needed for passage.
Still, the issue is urgent, and Congress needs to act. Thousands have already lost their DACA protection, and thousands more will lose theirs in the months ahead.
WHO SUPPORTS DACA?
A CBS News poll released in January shows that almost nine out of ten adults in the United States – 87 percent – would allow the Dreamers to stay, provided they work or attend school.
The DACA program was established by the Obama Administration in June 2012 by executive action rather than legislation.
In 2014, President Obama announced a plan to expand DACA and offer its protection to more immigrants. That plan was ultimately rejected by the courts.
HOW MANY DREAMERS ARE PROTECTED BY DACA?
As of June 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received 844,931 applications for DACA status, and 88 percent of the applications (741,546) had been approved.
Plans to phase out DACA were launched by the Trump Administration on September 5, 2017. At that time, the President gave Congress six months to come up with a new plan for the Dreamers.
Congress so far has failed. Without the Supreme Court’s last-minute ruling in late February, DACA would have ended on March 5th without any action by Congress to help the Dreamers.
CAN EMPLOYERS HELP THEIR DACA EMPLOYEES?
Researchers have demonstrated that DACA increases the wages and employment rate of DACA participants, and it reduces the number of immigrant households in poverty in the U.S.
How can U.S.-based employers help their DACA-protected employees?
Concerned employers should consult an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.
An immigration attorney may be able to identify some helpful visa options for DACA employees, and an attorney can help with the paperwork needed to obtain an appropriate visa.
An immigration lawyer can also identify and assist with particular immigration difficulties that an individual employee may need to resolve.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE DACA MATTER TO BE RESOLVED?
It may take months for the DACA issue to be resolved by the courts and for the Dreamers to learn their eventual fate.
And with Congress apparently unable to resolve the issue, immigration activists are already looking to this year’s midterm election and to a Congress that will not convene until 2019.
If you’re a Dreamer – or a Dreamer’s employer – you must have reliable advice regarding immigration law. Changes are coming, but there is no way to predict what those changes will be.
In the confusion of 2018, having the advice of a good immigration attorney – and adhering to that advice – is the best move that an immigrant or an employer of immigrants can make.