DACA Restored but Vulnerable Thanks to Supreme Court Victory

Existing Beneficiaries Can File for Renewal for Now

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been successful in permitting hundreds of thousands of eligible undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the United States. The Obama administration introduced the program in 2012, targeting immigrants who arrived in the country unlawfully as children. DACA’s eligibility requirements are consequently quite narrow, and a 2014 effort to expand the program, also led by the Obama administration, was ultimately squashed by court challenges. Indeed, DACA has faced consistent resistance from conservative lawmakers, though generally, DACA beneficiaries’ protection from deportation proceedings was not threatened.

However, DACA recipients found their safety from removal efforts imperiled when President Trump announced he would be “winding down” the program, resulting in its dismantling, in 2017. The Trump administration allowed a six-month grace period for Congress to pass a permanent legislative solution, but the Republican-controlled bodies ultimately did not act. This left DACA beneficiaries without any protection from deportation proceedings should the courts not grant them reprieve.

Immediately following the announcement, eligible immigrants were no longer able to apply for new applications or renewals of DACA status. Those who had a current DACA status were only protected from removal until their current period lapsed. President Trump’s actions were decried by immigration advocates, and legal challenges were quickly filed. The issue wound its way through the judicial system before arriving at the Supreme Court for arguments in November 2019.

The Supreme Court delivered its decision on June 18, 2020, siding against President Trump and declaring his means of ending DACA unlawful. The decision partially restored DACA, allowing existing beneficiaries to apply for renewals of status. Though the COVID-19 pandemic already made traveling abroad a challenge, it was unclear if those with DACA status could return to the country if they traveled abroad.

While many were relieved by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote, others were disappointed by the limited nature of the ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal-leaning Justices and wrote the majority opinion, which explicitly clarified that the decision did not take a position on the fundamental legality of the DACA program. Their ruling only rejected the means in which President Trump sought to end DACA. The “arbitrary and capricious” nature of the action was in violation of federal rules on administrative procedures.

In essence, Chief Justice Roberts has all but invited President Trump to mount another attempt to dismantle the DACA program, going so far as to imply an executive action might be a legally permissible method. The Trump administration has yet to signal whether it will pursue another effort, and political pundits have noted there are reasons why the President might abstain, for now. His initial DACA proclamation was met with severe, bipartisan criticism, and a second attempt to rescind the program could invite further controversy in an election year. The President is unlikely to take any action that could harm his chances of reelection, so it is possible he waits to act on DACA again for his potential second term.

In the meantime, President Trump may be content to let the DACA program operate in its more limited capacity. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not yet permitted the submitting of new DACA applications, for example, and it remains unclear if it intends to do so under the White House’s current guidance.

That is no small comfort to current DACA beneficiaries, who remain susceptible to future executive action. The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, has voiced his support for the continuation of the program, and a Democrat in the White House would likely shelter DACA in the short-term. Still, a more permanent legislative solution is still required to ensure the long-term protection of DACA recipients, who should not have to live in fear of another program shutdown.

Renew Your DACA Status Before It Is Too Late

The Trump administration could announce a new executive action that freezes DACA renewal processing at any time. It is thus paramount you reach out to our immigration attorney at Simon Law Group, PLLC to aid in your renewal effort. Our practice is dedicated to helping immigrants find solutions for remaining in the United States, and we will give your case the expediency and compassionate advocacy it deserves. We can review the circumstances of your DACA situation, determine the best course of action, and help file and fight for your renewal with the USCIS.

You have a limited window of opportunity to file for DACA renewal, so do not delay in scheduling your free consultation with us. Dial (713) 839-0639 or contact us online to get started today.