Last September, the Trump administration announced that it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Since then, there has been nothing but confusion regarding what happens next.
March 5 Deadline
After the intense backlash over the stunning announcement, President Donald Trump walked back his proclamation and explained that he was not going to deport all of the DREAMers immediately, but instead, he wanted a better plan. He chose March 5th as the deadline for Congress to make an actionable plan for the 690,000 Dreamers enrolled in the program. While there have been several attempts at negotiations, nothing has been decided.
Politicians, the press and thousands of DREAMers worried that yesterday’s “expiration date” was the end of protection for DACA recipients. Thankfully that isn’t the case.
However, even with the Supreme Court rejecting the highly unusual request from Trump in a lawsuit attempting to end the program, the DREAMers are still far from safe.
The significant dates are the ones printed on each work permit for the DACA recipients themselves. The U.S. government issued licenses were never going to expire en masse on March 5th.
On September 5th, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security stopped accepting new applications for DACA. Since October there have been approximately 122 immigrants each day whose DACA work permits expired because they were unable to apply for renewals.
After March 5th, that number will rise by hundreds of DREAMers a day, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The institute estimates that an average of 915 work permits will expire daily. It is a gradual process that could lead to as many as a 1,000 a day by August.
Thanks to some judges in California and New York, though, there is still hope for these young immigrants who wish to stay in the U.S.
In January, a federal judge in California filed an injunction against Trump’s wind-down of the DACA program. The judge ordered U.S. Custom and Immigration Services (USCIS) to start accepting renewal applications once again. Then, a federal judge in New York also issued an injunction.
What does this all mean for DACA recipients?
There is no chance of returning DACA to its pre-September 5th operations. Those DACA recipients that turned 15 after that date, those who couldn’t afford to apply, and those that didn’t apply for other reasons will still be unable to get work permits on their own.
Currently, there is no window on how long the application process takes. As it stands, USCIS is processing the new renewal applications, and allegedly it takes around 90 – 120 days. The Trump administration said that ICE agents wouldn’t actively hunt down DACA recipients with expired work permits en masse.
However, if ICE happens to find a DREAMer with an expired work permit, they are just as vulnerable to arrest and deportation as anyone else.
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have lived in a state of uncertainty since September, and things don’t appear to be clearing up anytime soon. Congress holds all the power here and until they get together, reach across the aisle, and work in a bipartisan manner to figure something out things will stay as they are.
Confusion and insanity are all par for the course when Trump is president, as we see over and over and over again.
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