*This article was published on the EPA Today website.*
On Tuesday September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally announced that the Obama policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is officially rescinded. The program protects some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children by their parents.
For those who qualified, the program offered temporary protection from deportation, legal work authorization, and the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license.
What does this mean for those who are benefiting from DACA? The official memorandum (which can be found here in its entirety), breaks it down into eight bullet points. The memorandum starts by stating that, “the Department [Department of Homeland Security] will provide a limited window in which it will adjudicate certain requests for DACA and associated applications meeting certain parameters.”
- The Department “will adjudicate–on an individual, case-by-case basis–properly filed pending DACA initial requests……that have been accepted…as of the date of this memorandum.”
What this means: First time applicants who have already filed their applications and are currently waiting for an approval notice might still have some hope. As stated, these individuals will not automatically be rejected, but their request will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis moving forward. It should be noted, however, that the use of the term “accepted” is a bit unclear.
The word “accepted” appears to be synonymous with “submitted,” which could mean that if an individual has sent an application and it currently is in route, but it has not yet reached the hands of the administrative staff, it’s still in the running for consideration. If the term “accepted” is meant to mean only those applications that have physically reached the administrative office and have been physically accepted, then it might mean that the applications in route will no longer be considered.
- The Department “will reject all DACA initial requests and associated applications.”
What this means: Those who have yet to apply or who had the intention of submitting their application today or in the near future will be rejected. Applications are no longer being accepted starting on September 5, 2017.
- The Department “will adjudicate–on an individual, case-by-case basis–properly filed pending DACA renewal requests…from current beneficiaries that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum, and from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between the date of this memorandum and March 5, 2018 that have been accepted by the Department as of October 5, 2017.”
What this means: Those who had previously been approved for and obtained employment authorization (and other benefits) through the program might still be able to renew. If one’s employment card expires between now and March 5, 2018, you can still submit a renewal application.
The application must be submitted by October 5, 2017. These applications will not automatically be approved and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Again, the use of the term, “accepted,” is a bit unclear, but it seems to be synonymous with “submitted.”
- The Department “will reject all DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed outside of the parameters specified above.”
- The Department “will not terminate the grants of previously issued deferred action…for the remaining duration of their validity periods.”
What this means: DACA benefits (including work authorization) will not be taken away if they have not expired yet. However, if the work permit expires after March 5, 2018, a renewal application will not be accepted. For now, those who still obtain a valid work permit, may continue to use it until it expires.
- The Department “will not approve any new Form I-131 applications for advance parole…although it will generally honor the stated validity period for previously approved applications for advance parole.”
What this means: Applications for advanced parole–permission to leave the country and re-enter the United States under strict guidelines–will no longer be accepted. Those who previously applied for advance parole and who have been approved should be wary of the term “generally” because it doesn’t guarantee that the individual will be allowed to re-enter the United States.
- The Department “will administratively close all pending Form I-131 applications…and will refund all associated fees.”
What this means: If an individual applied for advanced parole and was waiting for an approval notice, the application will be rejected, but the paid fees will be refunded.
- The Department “will continue to exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time.”
What this means: The original strict policy still stands and DACA benefits can still be taken away at any time–most commonly, due to criminal activity. The termination or denial, as always, is at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security.
Anyone with specific questions about an individual case is encouraged to contact an immigration attorney. Local immigration attorneys in East Palo Alto can be reached at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA) at 650-326-6400.