Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program that has provided work authorization and a temporary reprieve from deportation for around 800,000 recipients throughout the United States. The DACA program was created through an Executive Order by President Obama in 2012 to offer opportunity to youth who arrived in the U.S. through no choice of their own, and were stranded without lawful status or work authorization.
The end to this program is supposed to be implemented gradually over six months. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the immigration agency in charge of reviewing and deciding DACA cases, has reported it will accept applications until October 5, 2017, for DACA renewals for individuals whose current work authorizations expire on or before March 5, 2018. No new applications for initial DACA will be accepted. Applications that are currently pending (filed before September 5, 2017) are supposed to be adjudicated. We expect to receive more detail over the next weeks and months.
In the past several days, grassroots organizations and Senators and Congressmen from both sides of the aisle have spoken out to oppose the end of DACA, and to call for the Dream Act to be passed. The Dream Act would provide a path to residency and citizenship for individuals who have DACA or meet similar requirements as the DACA program, if passed into law. The Dream Act has failed to pass for many years. But it’s possible that the end of DACA will light a fire under Congress to protect this vulnerable and deserving population.