On November 12, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a seminal case regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. DACA was initiated in 2012 by President Obama, which allowed certain childhood arrivals to the U.S., obtain an employment authorization card, and work lawfully in the U.S. Although it did not confer any legal status to the applicants, it was a step toward providing the youth some opportunities in the U.S. while protecting them from deportation. Hundreds of thousands of individuals came out of the shadows, and applied for benefits under the DACA program and continue to do so.
Once President Trump came into the office, this small victory for these young, undocumented individuals was threatened. President Trump rescinded DACA, immediately prompting lawsuits, which partially enjoined the permanent rescission of DACA. The lawsuits resulted in previous recipients to continue to renew their benefits, while new applicants were no longer eligible to apply, among other consequences.
Since this time, there has been increasing pressure on Congress to pass permanent laws that will protect DACA recipients. However to date, there has not been such a law passed by our legislation. The most recent bill introduced and passed by the House of Representatives is called the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which was passed on June 4, 2019. The bill is similar to the DACA program except that it would give conditional resident status to the applicants. However, the Senate has not yet passed this bill.
As Congress continues to debate the issues and formulate a solution this this issue, the lawsuit currently stopping the rescission of DACA is moving forward. The U.S. Supreme Court granted review on June 28, 2019, and after these oral decisions, they can issue a decision in early 2020. If the Court overrules the injunction, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients will no longer be protected from deportation, and will not be able to renew their work permits. Thousands will be out of jobs. Some may even need to drop out of school.
The future is uncertain, and all pivots on the Court’s decision. For this reason, some practitioners are recommending to renew DACA benefits before a decision is issued in this case. If you or someone you know have DACA, you should speak to an experienced attorney to determine what would be the best action to take in your case.