In a surprising decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 18, 2020 that DACA can stay, at least for now. Specifically, the country’s highest court ruled that the Trump administration cannot immediately end the program, which currently protects approximately 700,000 young immigrants from deportation and provides them with work authorization.
President Obama created the program in 2012. President Trump announced he would cancel it in 2017 by claiming that the program was beyond the legal power of any president and that President Obama did not have the authority to create it in the first place. The U.S. Supreme Court did not address the policy itself, but rather only addressed whether the Trump administration complied with the procedural requirement of providing a “reasoned explanation” for cancelling the program. It held that it did not and that the reason given for canceling DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” contrary to federal law that governs administrative agencies.
The ruling does not prevent the Trump administration from cancelling the program in the future. The question in this case was not whether Trump could cancel DACA, because everyone agrees that he can. Instead, the question was whether the administration went about it the right way, and the answer is no. Trump can now provide a more reasoned explanation for cancelling the program, which the lower courts can rule is sufficient.
So what does this mean for those who currently have DACA, previously had DACA, or are eligible for DACA, but never applied?
2. If you previously had DACA, but it has expired, you can also renew it. Same as above. DACA extensions may proceed now, even in cases where the previous DACA expired, but we don’t know how long this will last. The Trump Administration still has the right to cancel DACA if it provides a more satisfactory reason for doing so in the future.
5. Does this mean that DACA recipients will get green cards or citizens? Unfortunately, no. Congress will still have to act in order to create a path for permanent residency or citizenship to help most DACA beneficiaries. For now, the decision only means that DACA is not yet cancelled and can go back to its 2012 version until Trump provides a more satisfactory explanation for cancelling it.
For now, we recommend any individual who has DACA, had DACA or is eligible for DACA to consult with a qualified immigration attorney to file for this benefit, if eligible. But until Congress acts, the fate of DACA beneficiaries will continue to be precarious as the Trump administration may nevertheless cancel the program in the future. We also recommend consulting regarding whether or not the DACA beneficiary may qualify for permanent residency (i.e. green card) through family-sponsorship, self-sponsorship (e.g. victims of trafficking or violence, or individuals with extraordinary ability), or even employment-based sponsorship. To learn more about whether you may qualify for an employment-based green card while on DACA, please refer to our earlier post on Employment-based Green Cards for Those with DACA.
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