The Latest Updates on the DACA Program

DACA Program

Since President Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (commonly referred to as “DACA”) program in 2012, the immigration program has been subject to multiple rounds of litigation and political negotiation, including a final Supreme Court ruling in June of 2020.

President Obama’s administration created the program in response to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to protect “Dreamers,” as DACA recipients are also known. The program grants qualified undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors deportation deferrals for two-year periods and eligibility for work permits. It does not offer a path to citizenship.

President Trump attempted to halt the entire program permanently in 2017. After years of lawsuits and judicial rulings allowing only portions of the program to continue, the Supreme Court issued a ruling which reinstated the program in the summer of 2020.

On December 4, 2020, a federal judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to restore the original DACA program fully. This means the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must begin accepting first-time DACA applications, including applications from all persons who are eligible for the program but were unable to apply before the September 2017 termination and applications from those persons who applied after the June 2020 Supreme Court decision but had their request rejected.

If you are minor without legal status, find out how an experienced immigration lawyer at Lovell, Lovell, Isern & Farabough, LLP can help you. Contact us today to find out if you qualify for DACA. We can help you submit your initial application or help you apply for a two-year renewal.

A Timeline of DACA Legislation

August 2012 – President Obama directs the Department of Homeland Security to grant deferred action to qualified immigrant youth, creating the DACA program.

August 2015 – U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service begins accepting applications for DACA.

September 2017 – President Trump rescinds the executive order authorizing DACA; the Department of Homeland Security announces DACA will be phased out for current recipients and no new requests for temporary protection from deportation under DACA will be granted.

January 2018 – A federal judge in California issues a nationwide preliminary injunction on the rescission of the DACA program, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to reinstate the DACA program; DACA renewals are allowed to continue, but new applicants are no longer allowed to apply.

March 2018 – A federal district court judge in Maryland finds the Trump Administration’s rescission of DACA is valid, but the ruling is overturned on appeal. The Trump Administration asks the United States Supreme Court to review the decision.

May 2018 – An additional lawsuit is filed by seven states challenging the legality of the DACA program, but the case remains in limbo pending a decision from the Supreme Court. Legal injunctions remain in place, allowing current DACA recipients to renew their statuses, but preventing new applicants from applying.

June 2019 – The United States Supreme Court agrees to hear cases on the Trump Administration’s termination of the DACA program.

November 2019 – Oral arguments were presented to the Supreme Court.

June 2020 – The Supreme Court rules 5-4 that President Trump’s rescission of the DACA program was “arbitrary and capricious.” This ruling allows DACA to continue.

December 2020 – A federal judge orders the Department of Homeland Security to fully restore the original DACA program, allowing new applicants to apply for the first time since September 2017.

July 2021 – A Texas federal judge ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was not legal and blocked individuals new to the application process from applying. Immigrants who are currently protected by the program are entitled to keep their status while facing the appeals process.

January 2021 – President Biden published a memorandum that directed the Secretary of Homeland Security in communication with the Attorney General of the United States to take action to preserve and fortify Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals consistent with the applicable law.

July 16, 2021 – 2021 DACA policy is deemed unlawful by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The Texas federal court bars the government from granting DACA status until the legalities are remedied in court. It does allow for renewals until there is a resolution to the case.

Following July 16th, 2021 – The United States government appealed the Texas order. Meanwhile, first-time DACA applications flooded in – at least 78,000 applications. This was a result of the court’s December 4, 2020 order to allow new applications. USCIS begins canceling appointments to take fingerprints for those applying for the first time. Renewals, however, do not stall.

Summer through fall of 2021 – Advocates work diligently to compel Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for individuals eligible for the DACA program. Things seem to be gaining momentum.

Winter 2021 through spring 2022 – Since Congress has failed to act, the Batalla Vidal plaintiffs make the decision to go back before a New York court.

Spring 2022 – Oral argument is set for early July of 2022 in New Orleans.

April 2022 – The Batalla Vidal plaintiffs and class members are slated to appear at a status conference held in Brooklyn, New York, where they will seek clarification from a New York court regarding the December 2020 order. Specifically, they will learn whether that order provides relief to a limited group of the 1.1 million class members who suffered harm. The smaller subgroup of 78,000 who applied for the first time is in an ambiguous position because of the court’s orders.

June 2022 – The Batalla Vidal plaintiffs’ briefing is completed, and their motion for modification is filed. The New York court will hear oral arguments on July 7, 2022.

August 3, 2022 – The New York court decided to deny the plaintiffs’ motion entirely. Therefore, the court will not extend relief to individuals who have pending first-time DACA applications or those who have had a lapse of over a year.

August 30, 2022 – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a final ruling that limited changes to the DACA program. This included the criteria for qualifying for DACA. The application process by which one can request work authorization when applying for DACA remains in place.

October 31, 2022 – The United States government abides by the Texas court’s injunction. So, the USCIS will keep processing DACA renewals but will not grant any new applications for DACA.

February 10, 2023 – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham introduced the Dream Act of 2023. This Act, if passed, would allow noncitizens without lawful immigration status who were born in the U.S. and lived here as children to work and gain an education so they can eventually obtain legal permanent residency. Durbin and Graham introduced this legislation during the last three sessions of Congress.

Our Amarillo Immigration Lawyers Can Help

With potential changes on the horizon due to bipartisan support of the latest proposed legislation, individuals who came to this country as children may be offered substantial legal protections and a more straightforward path to American citizenship.

Each presidential administration has made its mark on the DACA program, and there will continue to be arguments for and against it, but hopefully, a concrete resolution will be made in the near future. The Amarillo immigration attorneys of Lovell, Lovell, Isern & Farabough, LLP are here to answer any questions and offer guidance if you or someone in your family needs help with a family immigration matter.

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