Program Restored for Now but Still Vulnerable
The Deferred Action Against Child Arrivals, or DACA, has seen its fair share of legal challenges since its enaction in 2012 by President Obama. Intended to give undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children the opportunity to remain and work in the country, the program has helped hundreds of thousands. However, due to DACA’s strict eligibility requirements, the pool of potential applicants has not grown since the program’s original implementation. An effort by the Obama administration to expand this pool in 2014 was ultimately squashed by legal challenges and a split Supreme Court.
President Trump took an even more aggressive approach, announcing an end to the program in 2017. The Trump administration indicated they would be potentially receptive to a more permanent solution to helping DACA beneficiaries, one that would need to be passed by Congress. However, the Republican-controlled House and Senate failed to muster any legislation.
This move resulted in an immediate stoppage of DACA application acceptance, processing, and renewals. Legal challenges were almost immediately filed against the Trump’s administration, arguing they could not end the program. Still, DACA beneficiaries, applicants, and hopefuls were left in a state a limbo, unclear on whether they would eventually be subject to deportation proceedings from which the program otherwise protected them.
The challenge eventually made its way to the United States Supreme Court in 2019. On June 18, 2020, the Court delivered its decision, ruling against the Trump administration in a vote of 5-4. Chief Justice John Roberts joined his liberal peers in the decision, ruling that the way President Trump attempted to rescind DACA was improper.
The decision means that DACA is immediately restored. Current beneficiaries can now file for renewals of their status, and eligible immigrants can file new applications. Deportation protections intended by DACA status remain in place. There is, however, a lack of clarity on traveling abroad: Those with DACA status might not be able to reenter the country at this time, though unrelated restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic would likely make such travel impractical, anyway.
It is critical to understand that while DACA has been restored for now, it remains vulnerable to further executive action. Chief Justice Roberts clarified the Court intended to strike down the manner in which the Trump administration attempted to terminate the program, not the intent or act of ending DACA. Furthermore, the Justice suggested the Trump administration could attempt another termination of the program through executive action.
However, many believe President Trump will avoid the controversy of another DACA shutdown attempt. While immigration remains a hot-button issue for his campaign, a new bid to rescind the program could harm the President’s chances at reelection.
Even so, the DACA program remains fundamentally vulnerable in the eyes of the Supreme Court. Its future prospects may lie with this November’s election, which could not only change the occupant of the White House, but also the majority of the Senate. A Democrat-led Congress is more likely to make a permanent legislative solution for DACA beneficiaries a priority. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee, has already expressed his support for such a measure.
Am I Eligible for DACA?
You must meet a narrow set of requirements in order to qualify for DACA status. It should also be emphasized that acceptance to the program is not guaranteed, even if you meet the entirety of the criteria.
To be eligible for DACA status, you must have:
- Been unlawfully present in the United States prior to your turning 16
- Lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
- Been born on June 16, 1981 or later
- Been present in the country both on June 15, 2012 as well as at the time of DACA application submittal
- No lawful status as of June 15, 2012
- Not been convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors
- Completed at least a high school education or GED, have been honorably discharged from the military, or are presently enrolled in school
- Additionally, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, must also determine that you are not a threat to national or public security
If all of the above conditions describe your situation and you are interested in applying for the DACA program, you should send the following documents to the USCIS:
- Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- I-765WS Worksheet
- Any documentation verifying your eligibility
Getting Help with DACA
We understand that the constant news and changes surrounding DACA can make the program more confusing to understand. Since DACA has been restored as a result of the Supreme Court decision, the program can be a powerful tool for eligible immigrants seeking to live and work in the United States.
If you are confused about whether you qualify for the program or need assistance preparing and filing your application documents, we can help. We at The E.A. Wood Law Firm make it our mission to protect everyone’s American dream, and our DACA attorneys have helped many North Carolinians find positive resolutions to their immigration programs. We want to explore how we can help give you the compassionate and effective legal care you deserve.
Let us help you determine your eligibility or assist you in preparing your DACA application. Call (800) 611-0821 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today!