The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals helps protect people who came to this country as undocumented children from deportation. This immigration program has had a topsy-turvy existence began in 2012. This year was especially eventful for DACA.
What is DACA?
DACA is a policy adopted eight years in the last administration to protect specified individuals who came to this country as undocumented children. Currently, there are approximately 645,600 recipients.
In addition to deportation protection, DACA provides eligibility for work authorization, a social security number, and a state-issued identification or a driver’s license.
DACA does not grant a visa, green card or other lawful status or an avenue to U.S. citizenship. Before July 2020, DACA was granted for a 2-year period which could be renewed.
U.S. Supreme Court decision
This year, the Supreme Court rejected the federal government’s 2017 attempt to end DACA. It ruled that its procedures were unlawful and the return of the matter to the Department of Homeland Security.
The July 2020 memorandum and renewals
The federal government issued a July 2020 memorandum restricting DACA. It ends DACA eligibility for applicants who did not receive DACA and states that it all new or previous requests will be rejected, and the fee returned. The memorandum also ends the possibility of advance parole for DACA recipients and the issuance of special permits for international travel except in exceptional circumstances.
Individuals who are current DACA recipients, had DACA in the past or had DACA terminated apparently keep the ability to submit renewal requests. But DACA protection drops from two years to one year.
Individuals with a current DACA that expires in the next five months may need to renew as soon as possible to ensure that it does not expire. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recommends that individuals submit their renewal requests 150 to 120 days before their DACA expires. The agency will not accept renewal applications that are submitted over 150 days before expiration.
USCIS has refused to process new DACA applications and will reject them. Under this memorandum, any applications that were pending when this memorandum was issued will be processed under the terms of that memorandum. This will likely lower that renewal period to one year.
USCIS will return advance parole travel applications from DACA recipients in accordance with the government’s July 20 memorandum unless the applicant demonstrates exceptional circumstances.
An advance parole application that was already approved will not be terminated and the travel permit may be used. But it may be advisable to seek legal guidance to assure that there are no difficulties when an individual returns to this country.
Any risks associated with renewals may depend on an individual’s situation. According to the July 20 memorandum, the federal government is considering DACA termination.
The memorandum states that information provided in a DACA application should be protected regarding immigration enforcement. But this protection does not apply to individuals who are considered a national security threat, used fraud in their application or committed a serious crime.
The Department of Homeland Security already has information about renewal applicants from their earlier applications. There were also reports that ICE has access to USCIS information.
Individuals who had recent dealings with law enforcement or immigration officials should carefully consider whether they should submit a renewal. Some criminal issues have the risk of denial or deportation.
An immigration attorney can assist individuals with the complexity and changing status of DACA. Legal advice may be especially important on issues such as applications, DACA status and advance parole.