This blog was written before the June 18, 2020 SCOTUS decision on DACA. More to come.
In 2015, then-president Barack Obama signed an executive order protecting young undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children from deportation. The executive order is known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and has protected an estimated 800,000 young adults from deportation for over 5 years. The recipients of DACA benefits have to apply every two years and prove that they meet specific criteria including passing an extensive background check in exchange for protection from deportation as well as permission to work and study in the U.S.. It is estimated that over 1.3 million “Dreamers”, a term used to describe young people who arrived to the U.S. before age 16, qualify for DACA and could be actively contributing to the economy and society. Despite their contributions, the Trump administration has recently advanced their plans to rescind DACA, and the consequences will be devastating for recipients and their families. If you or a loved one is a DACA recipient, STERN Law wants you to be armed with as much information as possible so that you can take action.
DACA protects individuals and their communities.
It’s important to note that DACA was not intended to be a pathway to citizenship; the protection from deportation and the opportunity to participate in the world serves only as a temporary solution for Dreamers. Yet, it brings a lot of benefits to the communities in which they live and work. For instance, a recent poll by the New York Times revealed that approximately 27,000 Dreamers helped our country through the recent Coronavirus pandemic as doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical, and paramedic professionals. Putting an end to DACA benefits could adversely affect the medical industry alone, especially if it leads to the loss of work permits and deportations. This is just one example of an area of the economy that can be impacted. DACA recipients also own homes, businesses, and contribute to every area of the economy that you can think of.
How real is the threat to DACA?
The Trump administration took steps to eliminate DACA in 2017 and gave Congress a window of time to come up with a new or modified solution. Since then, the Department of Homeland Security stopped processing new applications for the program. However, beneficiaries who were already enrolled in the program have been able to continue renewing during this time. But the deadline for the Supreme Court to rule is fast approaching and is expected to occur over the next few weeks. There are a few possible outcomes:
- The Supreme Court can rule that it does not have the legal authority to review the Executive branches’ decision to end DACA.
- The Supreme Court can rule that the Executive’s decision to end DACA is unlawful.
- The Supreme Court can rule that the Executive’s decision to end DACA is lawful.
While the recent pandemic has taken center stage in local and national news, it is important to note the significance that either of these outcomes will have for us all. If the Supreme Court rules that the government’s decision to end DACA is lawful or that the Court does not have legal authority over the administration’s ruling, the DACA recipients could lose their right to work and live in the country.
What can DACA recipients and their families do now?
If you or a loved one is a DACA recipient, it is important to make sure that you maintain your eligibility. Make sure that your renewals are up to date and that your background is up-to-par with the standards you need to maintain eligibility. If you are not sure whether a criminal arrest can affect you, please call us right away, and one of our CrImmigration attorneys will evaluate your case to provide you with options. We are experts at post-conviction relief and other strategies that can help you maintain eligibility. If you need help renewing your DACA, we can help. It is important to stay positive and prepare for a scenario where you can apply for DACA or some other benefit that may be developed after this ruling is made.
Help us to put pressure on our Lawmakers.
If the Court’s decision results in the discontinuation of the DACA program, the only way to protect the Dreamers is through legislation in Congress and the Senate.
The House of Representatives successfully passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) last June, which would provide DACA recipients, TPS holders, and DED holders a pathway to citizenship. In the Senate, however, neither H.R. 6 nor the Dream Act of 2019 (S.874), have been brought forward yet for a Senate vote.
At STERN Law, we believe that Dreamers are an important part of our country, and we want to encourage you to join us in our efforts to protect them from deportation. If you are able to vote, please vote for people and policies who believe that a permanent future for the Dreamers is important. Find your Representatives and call them to support the Dream Act of 2019. Get involved in local and national initiatives to support DACA and the Dreamers it protects.