The active Delayed Action for Children Arriving in Childhood program, designed to protect thousands of “dreamers” from deportation, is in an important new chapter, and you can help her write it.
Launched by a Department of Homeland Security memorandum in 2012, the program suspended deportations and granted work permits to more than 825,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and lived in the country without legal permission. These people did not have the right to become citizens or legal residents and faced the constant threat of deportation, even though they usually remembered little or no memory of their country of birth.
DACA protections are temporary – candidates are renewed every two years – and can be revoked at the discretion of the government.
And at the moment, DACA is in limbo. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to reinstate the program with a new regulation, a process that usually takes several months. In the meantime, people previously admitted to DACA can apply for an extension of their protection, but new applicants are not considered.
Problems with DACA law stem from a July ruling by a federal judge in Brownsville, Texas, which ruled that DHS violated federal law by creating the program without officially notifying the public and inviting people to comment. The judge also expressed skepticism about the department’s authority to create such a program on its own, instead of requiring Congress to pass it into law.
The Biden administration is appealing the ruling, but it is also seeking to “preserve and strengthen” the program by going through a rule-making process that it previously missed.
On September 28, DHS released a 205-page rule proposal that will implement a new deferred deportation program that is very similar to DACA, opening a 60-day period for public comment. This will give you the opportunity to weigh the program and the changes that the department envisions. The most notable of these is the proposal to make it optional for DACA applicants to obtain a work permit, rather than making the permit application part of the DACA process.
Here’s what you need to know about what the proposed rule will remove from the current DACA program, what it will change, and how you can get involved.
How did we get here?
The 2012 DACA memorandum grew out of the Obama administration’s frustration with Congress for failing to pass legislation giving this group of immigrants a path to permanent residence – the DREAM Act – after decades of negotiations, despite bipartisan support for the idea. But the DACA drew stiff opposition from some Republicans, and in 2017 the Trump administration’s Justice Department announced that the program would be discontinued.
The move also ran into trouble with the law, and ultimately the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration went for the wrong procedural label by overturning DACA. But the program’s problems did not end there – almost exactly a year later, US District Judge Andrew S. Hanen in Texas ruled against the Obama administration’s DACA memorandum and sent the matter back to the Department of Homeland Security.
Notably, Hanen found that even if the department took all the correct procedural steps, “Congress did not give DHS the authority to implement DACA,” a comment that suggests that only Congress can save the program. Some lawyers agree, arguing that any such protection for such a large group of immigrants must come from Congress. And legislators have not provided them, despite the fact that versions of the DREAM law have been discussed at every session since 2001.
With little hope that the immigration bill will pass by the Republican filibuster in the Senate, some Democrats have tried to include the protection of Dreamers and other immigrants in the country without permission into Biden’s $ 1.75 trillion budget harmonization bill – a daunting task given the statutory limits. … about what can be included in the budgetary measure.
That the rule won’t change
The proposed rule will not change the requirements for obtaining protection. It would just formally accept the ones that DHS developed in 2012 and which the US Customs and Immigration Service has been using ever since.
To be eligible for the program, the recipient must have:
- come to the United States before the age of 16;
- resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 to the present;
- was physically present in the United States on both June 15, 2012 and at the time of the DACA application;
- graduated or received a high school diploma, or was enrolled in a school;
- Has not been convicted of a disqualifying felony or misconduct; and
- were born after June 16, 1981 and were at least 15 years old at the time of the DACA request.
What would it change
The most notable change to the proposal is that it will separate obtaining a work permit or work permit from admission to the DACA program.
Currently, when someone applies for and receives a permit to participate in the program, the work permit automatically comes with him if he confirms the “economic need for the job”. Under the proposed rule, filling out the forms required to obtain a work permit would simply be unnecessary for those wishing to postpone the action. (Work permits granted to previous DACA recipients will remain in effect.)
People seeking both DACA protection and a work permit will continue to pay $ 495 – $ 85 for DACA and $ 410 for a work permit. But those who apply exclusively for DACA will pay just $ 85.
DHS says the move “will not represent any significant change to current policy,” but will simply allow people to apply solely for DACA protection. Some applicants may not need a work permit, and others may want to know if they are DACA eligible before paying the additional permit fee, DHS says. As with the original program, the new rule will make the permissions available only to needy DACA recipients.
Some advocates have refused, arguing that granting work permits is optional and a disservice for DACA recipients.
Other changes include:
- A formal definition of “deferred action” as “a temporary refraining from removal that does not confer any right or authority to remain in the United States or re-enter the United States, and that does not prevent DHS from initiating any criminal or other enforcement action against the DACA requestor at any time. “;
- DACA Grant Termination Policy; and
- Confirmation of the Citizenship and Immigration Services policy that a person deemed to be legally in the United States through the DACA program does not in fact acquire any immigrant status.
To access rulemaking files, including reference documents and submitted comments, visit the eRulemaking portal and search for DHS Docket No. USCIS-2021-0006.
How can you hear your voice?
Federal law requires DHS to consider and validate all relevant comments it receives from the public, although it is not required to obey the public’s opinion.
You can submit your opinion on the proposed rule by visiting the federal e-regulation portal and following the instructions for submitting public comments.
When submitting a comment, include the agency name and DHS account number – in this case, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and DHSUSCIS account number-2021-0006.
Comments submitted by email or letter or manually delivered will not be accepted.
If you are unable to submit your comment through the portal, contact Samantha Deshommes, USCIS and DHS Compliance Officer, at (240) 721-3000 for alternative instructions.
Meanwhile, if you want to convince your congressional representatives to take action, you can call their offices through the US Capitol switchboard: (202) 225-3121. To email a member of the House of Representatives, refer to the House of Representatives Directory. And to send an email to your Senator, refer to the Senate Directory.