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DACA Announcement: What Does It Mean?

What did the Administration announce?

Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would be terminating the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in six months, on March 6, 2018. The six-month window is an attempt to give Congress time to pass more permanent legislation to provide status to this group before the six-month deadline hits.

What does this mean for current DACA recipients?

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo rescinding the program, those who currently have DACA status will retain that status, until the expiration of their current authorization. Most DACA recipients have been granted two-year authorizations of deferred action. Those whose authorization expires within the six-month window can apply for another two-year extension before October 5, 2017. If Congress does not act on a legislative fix, once current DACA holders permits expire after March 2018, they will lose their protected status and any work authorization they were granted and will be subject to deportation.

What does it mean for those who might have applied for DACA?

As of today, no new DACA applications will be accepted. If someone was eligible but had not applied before today, there is no longer an opportunity to do this. If they have filed an application already but it is pending, those applications will be processed after this announcement, and if approved, they would be eligible for a two-year deferred action status.

How many DACA recipients will be affected?

DACA applications have been grouped based on the time of original application. Many applied shortly after the original program was announced in August 2012, which means the bulk of current DACA recipients will have their current authorization expire over the next year. By March 2018, according to one analysis, the vast majority of DACA applicants, almost 600,000 are likely to have their status expire after the March deadline.

Will DACA recipients now be deported?

This is unclear. Trump issued executive orders earlier this year that explicitly stated that no individual who does not hold legal status is exempt from removal. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has deported some DACA recipients over the last few months, but has claimed that they gave up their status by committing crimes or other violations. Once their deferred action status has expired, they certainly will face deportation, but whether they will be specifically targeted is not clear.

Will Congress Act to protect DACA recipients?

President Trump has apparently asked Congressional leaders to act to support DREAMers, but Sessions did not make a specific call to legislate for this group. However, Congressional leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have made statements in support of DACA over the last few days. Several bills, including bipartisan legislation, have been introduced that would provide status to DREAMers. Congress has many priorities for the remainder of this year, and has been unable to pass immigration reform legislation in the past, but given the various pro- DREAMer statements of late, there is a possibility of bipartisan legislation now that the program has been terminated.

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