Various sources confirm that President Trump will likely soon decide the fate of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), an executive action program instituted by former President Obama to provide a temporary reprieve from deportation for certain undocumented individuals brought to the United States before their 16th birthdays. Almost 800,000 people have been approved for DACA, and may now be at risk of deportation should President Trump cancel the program.
President Trump is under pressure to cancel the program by September 5, 2017 in response to a threat issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. These same states sued the federal government over former President Obama’s DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) program and succeeded in halting the program during litigation, until it was ultimately rescinded by President Trump in January 2017. These same states have threatened that “[i]f, by September 5, 2017, the Executive Branch agrees to rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and not to renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future, then the plaintiffs that successfully challenged DAPA and Expanded DACA will voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit currently pending in the Southern District of Texas. Otherwise, the complaint in that case will be amended to challenge both the DACA program and the remaining Expanded DACA permits.”
As a candidate, President Trump promised to cancel DACA, but has become more hesitant to do so since becoming President. Nevertheless, he may cancel the program to appease his base and some members of his administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who does not favor the program and would not defend it in litigation.
If cancelled, the administration could phase out the program over time or end it abruptly. For example, the administration could choose to simply stop renewing DACA applications going forward and allow the program to sunset over time. In the alternative, the program could simply be terminated on a particular date, invalidating DACA and work authorization immediately. In either scenario, individuals left without DACA would be in jeopardy of deportation.
We urge all individuals with DACA to consult with a licensed immigration attorney to understand the implications of such cancellation, and to determine if they qualify for any alternative paths to legal status in the U.S.